Scotland: Opinion poll reveals backlash over trans rights Sunday Times 14.10.18

Scottish ministers are under pressure to drop plans to extend transgender rights after a voter backlash was revealed in a Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times.

The SNP government has supported controversial guidance that suggests teachers need not tell parents if a child wants to identify as a different gender. The advice, from LGBT Youth Scotland, also says there is no reason for parents to be told if their children are sharing rooms with trans pupils on school trips. The government is also considering letting children as young as 12 alter the gender on their birth certificate.

The changes are at the heart of Nicola Sturgeon’s equality drive, but the poll of 1,024 adults in Scotland suggests she is out of step with public opinion.

Nearly seven out of 10 adults in Scotland (69%) say parents should be told if their children change gender at school, while 13% disagree and 18% don’t know. Meanwhile, 57% say parents have a right to be informed about transgender children sharing a room on overnight school trips, 25% disagree and 18% don’t know.

Most adults believe either that the law should stay as it is — only allowing people to change the gender on their birth certificate at age 18 or over (38%) or not at any age (40%). Just 6% believe children should be allowed to change the gender on their certificate at age 12 or over. The preference of 16% of voters is for this to apply to those aged 16 or over.

Maggie Mellon, one of Scotland’s foremost authorities on child welfare and a former vice-chairwoman of the British Association of Social Workers, said it was “heartening but not really surprising to know that most adults disagree with the policies that government and local authorities and others have been foolish enough to adopt in the face of persistent lobbying by trans activists.

“It has been framed as a children’s rights issue. But it is a protection issue, just as the age of consent to sexual activity being set at 16 years is a protection and not a rights issue.

“It is dangerous to give way to any lobby group that insists it is fighting for ‘children’s rights’ when it is actually fighting against protection of children.

“They don’t care about children’s rights because if they did, they would care about girls, and boys, too, who are being asked to accept the unacceptable and the unbelievable. It is time those in authority who have been basking in the approval of transactivists, woke up to the harm they are causing.”

James Morton, the Scottish Trans Alliance manager, said the schools guidance recommended that teachers supported young trans people to feel comfortable and ready to come out to their parents. “We’ve never heard of any trans child in Scotland transitioning without the knowledge and support of at least one of their parents,” he said.

“The law that protects a minority needs to be decided by the parliament on the basis of careful consideration of the evidence, not on the results of opinion polls.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We received over 15,500 responses to our consultation on plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004. These responses are being independently analysed and we will outline the way ahead in due course.”