Scots council referral for parents who ‘fail’ to support trans child The Sunday Times 24.01.21
The original article is here.
Evidence that parents in Scotland have been referred to local authorities for “failing” to support a transgender child has provoked a furious reaction from campaigners.
Teachers, including those in primary schools, have made dozens of referrals under guidance that encourages schools to involve the council if there are concerns that a child thought to be experiencing gender dysphoria is not being supported at home.
The guidance, published in 2017 by LGBT Youth Scotland, the national charity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people, is designed to help teachers recognise gender dysphoria and support pupils.
However, the disclosure that councils are being involved has outraged critics. Some referrals are known to have triggered intervention by social services that was later deemed by the council to be unnecessary.
“The idea that schools are being guided by it and referring parents to local authorities for not agreeing with them is outrageous,” said Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, an evangelical pressure group.
“There is a hotly contested debate going on right now about how to respond to young people who experience gender confusion. Schools must exercise care and sensitivity to all concerned, including parents. Dragging in the council to ‘re-educate’ parents who dissent from the LGBT Youth Scotland line is oppressive and wrong.”
The LGBT Youth Scotland guidance has attracted criticism for eroding parental rights and potentially breaching equality laws. An updated version is to be published by the Scottish government, but it remains in force in about half of Scotland’s 32 councils.
The guidance observes that families are increasingly supportive of trans children but states that if parents or carers are struggling to come to terms with their child’s identity, teachers should ensure that there is a plan to support the young person in school. It adds that it “may also be useful to approach the local authority for additional guidance”.
Since 2017, schools in North Ayrshire have made 19 referrals to the council concerning transgender pupils.
West Dunbartonshire council confirmed that since 2018, it had received six referrals from schools for support or guidance that meant staff and parents “were more able to plan and support transgendered pupils”.
Other councils, including West Lothian and Orkney, confirmed referrals had been made but refused to disclose details because of “low numbers”.
Clackmannanshire council said that schools had made referrals “to support transgender pupils who had additional and more complex issues that required targeted interventions”.
A spokeswoman for North Ayrshire council said the number of referrals showed the importance it places on being an inclusive, fair and kind organisation. “We actively promote a culture where young people can share their need for support and we are proud of our child-centred approach, which is based on respecting the rights of our young people across all of the services we provide.
“In partnership with our young people, we have created support systems and mechanisms that ensure that the correct support is available to all young people, whenever they need it most.”