Children as young as four are being asked by their ‘trans-friendly’ primary school to inform on anyone calling transgender pupils by the ‘wrong’ pronoun.
The policy at Arbury Primary in Cambridge states that it is ‘illegal’ to call someone ‘he/she’ or ‘it’ against their wishes.
The school also urges parents of children who no longer identify as their biological gender to consider changing their name by deed poll.
Arbury holds assemblies to celebrate a child’s ‘transition’ from a boy to a girl or vice versa, has introduced a gender-neutral uniform, and allows children to use lavatories of whichever sex they ‘assign’ themselves to.
The warning on ‘misgendering’ comes on the school website. A brightly coloured page entitled How To Be Trans Friendly features cartoons of smiling children surrounded by rainbows.
It states: ‘Calling someone he/she, it or deliberately the wrong pronoun is unkind, and illegal. If you hear or see this type of language being used challenge or report it.’
Elsewhere, the guidance says: ‘Trans children will understand the difference between a genuine mistake and something deliberate in relation to names and pronouns.’
The statement that misgendering is illegal may be based on the school’s interpretation of the 2010 Equalities Act, which suggests that a hate crime takes place when a member of a minority perceives one to have happened.
But Tory MP David Davies said: ‘In my view they are being completely irresponsible giving this advice to parents who may be struggling with how to help a child who is confused about their gender.
‘It’s ludicrous that a school would suggest something as radical as a legal name change for children this young. What the school should be concentrating on is teaching pupils reading, writing and arithmetic.’
And Stephanie Davies-Arai, from Transgender Trend, a parent-led campaign group concerned about rising number of children being diagnosed as transgender, added: ‘For a primary-aged child to change their name by deed poll is a drastic step that will cement a gender identity that the child may grow out of.’
Arbury headmaster Ben Tull advocated his trans-friendly policy in a previous interview, saying: ‘It is really important that a school is ready for anyone who walks in.
‘For children at primary level, the more we can do to non-stereotype them the better. We steer away from the binary model.’
Arbury tells its staff to encourage parents to think about legally changing their children’s name in guidance published on its website.
The guidelines, which are now being used by other primaries, detail what a school should do when a child wants to begin living as the opposite sex to the one they were born.
Entitled Supporting The Process Of Gender Transition In School – A Practical Guide, the document makes clear that trans children should not be prevented from living in their ‘preferred gender’.
It states: ‘The point at which a child indicates to others that they want to transition and begin living in their preferred gender should not be viewed by others as a problem to be solved.’
Staff are told that parents allowing their children to change gender ‘should be advised to consider changing their child’s name by deed poll’. But even without legal changes, the child’s name should be amended on the school’s computer records to the one they have chosen, the guide says. Children who have ‘transitioned’ should be allowed to use changing rooms that correspond with their gender preference.
To prepare the rest of the school for a child returning to class as a different gender from the one they were born, an assembly is held to explain the concept of being transgender. A publicly available script prepared by Mr Tull explains: ‘Some children are born in the body of a boy and know that inside, they are a girl. Some children are born in the body of a girl and know that they are a boy.’
Pupils are told that ‘we celebrate the fact we have a school full of so many different people’.