Council tells schools to let transgender pupils choose toilets

Council is threatened with legal action after telling schools to let transgender pupils choose which toilets and changing rooms to use

  • Victoria Edwards is threatening to sue Oxfordshire County Council over policy
  • She claims council’s ‘Trans Inclusion Toolkit’ could put students’ safety in danger
  • States pupils can use any toilet and get changed wherever they feel comfortable

A mother is threatening a council with legal action over its ‘dangerous’ transgender policy which tells children to use whichever toilet they like at school.

Victoria Edwards is fighting Oxfordshire County Council over its ‘Trans Inclusion Toolkit’, claiming it puts students’ safety in danger.

The 65-page document states that pupils can use the toilet and get changed wherever they feel most comfortable. 

But Ms Edwards has branded the authority’s stance ‘unlawful and damaging’, claiming it ‘places the rights of trans identified children above the rights of all other children and staff’. 

The 65-page document states that pupils can use the toilet and get changed wherever they feel most comfortable

She has now raised thousands of pounds towards a potential legal battle.  

Ms Edwards, whose 12-year-old attends a state secondary school in Oxford, is trying to raise money to assist with a potential judicial review.

Posting on a crowdfunding site, she said: ‘The guidance compels schools to allow male pupils who identify as girls to share changing rooms, toilets and dorm rooms on residential trips with female pupils.

‘[This is] without parents’ knowledge or permission – and allow them to compete with and against female pupils in sports.

‘Girls who feel uncomfortable with male bodied trans girls in their private spaces where they need privacy in a girls’ only environment…are completely dismissed in the document.’

She added: ‘I also believe that this could be harmful for trans children themselves, as the guidance may breed resentment towards them and further marginalise them at a time where fitting in and feeling part of a community is of great importance to their emotional wellbeing, further intensifying their feelings of distress and alienation.’ 

The county council said it ‘utterly refutes’ the claims. 

Ms Edwards has secured the backing of an anonymous teacher and pupil, who have been supported by lawyers and a national campaign group.

The pupil, a 13-year-old girl, said: ‘I hated primary school PE because the boys didn’t care and would run around in their pants and watch the girls change. All the girls ended up getting changed in the toilets which was disgusting. 

‘Now my body is changing I am really self conscious and it’s awkward even in front of girls. I love sport but if boys came in and expected to be treated the same as girls I wouldn’t get changed until they had gone. Also, I’m a tiny teen girl, and I’m not very good at ball sports but I do well at judo and karate and I do practice with boys. E

‘Even though my technique is good I know that many 11 year old boys can beat me on strength. If I did a competition against a trans girl of my grade I’d have no hope and they would break me.’

Ms Edwards has branded the authority’s stance ‘unlawful and damaging’, claiming it ‘places the rights of trans identified children above the rights of all other children and staff’

A letter was sent to the county council last week calling for it to publicly withdraw the ‘Toolkit’ by January 3 – otherwise the trio will apply for a judicial review.

The letter states: ‘The Toolkit ideologically focuses exclusively on the rights of children defined in the Toolkit as ‘trans’.

‘There is no recognition of the rights plainly held by other children, relating most particularly to their safety, privacy and dignity.’

More than 250 people have donated so far to the crowdfunding page, raising £7,165.

The unnamed teacher said: ‘I believe that gender is a pernicious social construct which limits the ambitions of everyone. This guidance forces me to act against my beliefs.’ 

The ‘Toolkit’ document states: ‘Being trans in itself is not a safeguarding risk.

‘There is nothing in statutory guidance that would prohibit trans children and young people from using the toilets or changing rooms that reflect their gender identity, or in which they feel most comfortable.

‘Access to toilets that are viewed as safe spaces are crucial for all children.’

Legal firm Sinclairslaw is representing the three complainants.

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor from the firm, said: ‘Central to its legal error is its bold assertion that ‘trans-girls are girls and trans-boys are boys’.

‘This guidance has wholeheartedly embraced transgender ideology at the expense of the rights of others.’

Parent-led group Safe Schools Alliance UK is also supporting the campaigners.

It said it is ‘extremely alarming’ that teachers and parents could be punished for failing to affirm a child’s gender identity.

It added that the guidance opposes existing safeguarding protocols about single-sex provision for children.

A statement said: ‘This case could be groundbreaking as it has ramifications for all schools nationally. This will be the first legal case that shapes the law on how schools are to engage with transgender issues.’

The county council said it knows of the challenges faced by young people struggling with gender identity, and that schools and organisations are working hard to support them. 

The council said it has worked with national experts and transgender people to review the Toolkit since complaints surfaced earlier this year.

Changes were then made and approved by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.

It added that it is formulating a response to the lawyers’ letter.

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