Nonsuch High School sixth-formers told girls, 11, how to bind breasts The Times 09.05.21

The original article is here.

A leading grammar school has been reported to the Department for Education after a newsletter, sent to girls as young as 11, explained how to bind their breasts.

Pupils at Nonsuch High School in Cheam, Surrey, were sent a newsletter compiled by sixth-formers at the school, which included one item headlined: “How do I bind safely?”

It included links to sites describing the practice as well as surgery to remove breast tissue if chest binding, used to achieve a “flatter, more masculine” appearance, hurt too much.

The April edition of the Friends of Dorothy newsletter, which is sent to pupils but not their parents, also advised the children on the difference between bisexuality, omnisexuality and pansexuality.

One parent with two daughters at the school said: “My fear is that girls will follow these links. I cannot understand why a newsletter would be produced for girls in a school with such information, especially those as young as 11.”

After clicking on one of the links, she was shocked to see information about the potential side-effects of breast binding.

“I cannot understand why a school would tell girls that you can bind your breasts so tightly that it harms your breasts and then if it hurts that they can chop their breasts off.

“Why are they telling my children this?”

Parents complained to a pressure group, the Safe Schools Alliance, which has referred the school to the Department for Education to investigate.

Tanya Carter, from the alliance, said it was “very alarmed” by the newsletter and that it was “disturbing” that it appeared to have been sent to all pupils, but not parents.

She added: “We are receiving ever-increasing [numbers of] emails from parents about similar issues in schools.

“We are trying to support parents through the established frameworks to challenge schools, but many parents are scared of retribution for themselves or their children and will not do so.”

Carter said the alliance had reported the safeguarding failures at Nonsuch to the Department for Education, noting that this was not the first controversy at the school.

Last year the school hit the headlines after pupils, many of whom follow the Black Lives Matter movement, protested against “white privilege” in demonstrations in the school’s playground.

Nonsuch’s last full inspection was in 2013.

Four years ago, inspectors carried out a short inspection, which said that the school “continues to be good” and praised the school’s celebrating of differences between pupils.

In a statement, the school said the newsletter, written by the LGBTQ+ student society, aims to “inform and promote understanding of LGBTQ+ issues”.

It added: “Its intention was to communicate safety advice to young people who may be considering risky practices … Interest and curiosity are not necessarily fixed to a specific age group.

“Information can safeguard children seeking answers to questions they may have that they cannot find safely in isolation.”

Both the Department for Education and Ofsted declined to comment.

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