Scottish councils face court action from Christian Institute on policy over transgender pupils The Times 28.10.18

The original article is here.

More than half of Scotland’s local authorities face court challenges over controversial guidance on transgender pupils in schools.

Seventeen councils, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, have been threatened with legal action by parents supported by the Christian Institute, a group that successfully challenged the Scottish government’s named persons legislation.

Lawyers for the group claim the guidance, produced by LGBT Youth Scotland and funded by the Scottish government, could mislead teachers and schools into thinking that equality law gives “absolute rights” to transgender people “to the exclusion of the rights of other service users”.

The charity is demanding to know the steps taken by councils to check the guidance’s compatibility with equality law and the Human Rights Act. A letter sent by lawyers acting for the institute states: “Your council has endorsed this guidance. However, it contains some key errors and omissions which mean the guidance is liable to mislead schools as to their rights and duties. This could lead to unnecessary legal action against schools and the council.”

The document, Supporting Transgender Young People: Guidance For Schools in Scotland, urges teachers not to tell parents if their child changes gender in school, unless the child gives permission.

School staff are advised to inform councils of parents who “struggle” with their child’s transgender identity and that children as young as four “should be supported to explore and express their identity ”.

The institute argues that parents have the right to be kept informed by a school of matters relating to their child’s development and wellbeing.

Simon Calvert, a spokesman for the institute, said: “The Scottish government withdrew its endorsement of the guidance when we pointed out the legal errors in it. Now it’s time for councils to pull the plug on it too, before their schools are sued by parents or pupils whose rights have been breached.”

James Morton, from Scottish Trans Alliance, said: “Trans young people in school are very vulnerable, and the guidance is intended to help schools look after them, in a way that respects all other students.”