12:00AM September 13, 2017
Three years after England, Wales and Scotland legalised same-sex marriage, and just months after sex education became mandatory at school, a row has unfolded over whether a six-year-old boy should be allowed to wear a dress to primary school.
The boy, who attends a Church of England school on the Isle of Wight, wanted to identify as a girl, but another family has pulled their son from school because he faced disciplinary action for “mis-gendering’’ the boy, the BBC said.
Nigel and Sally Rowe said their son was confused as to why the boy dressed as both a boy and a girl and claimed there was a political agenda driving the issues. The Rowes, who say they are a Christian family, intend to home-school their son.
In 2013, the British government passed legislation making gay marriage legal from 2014 with comparatively little community debate compared with what has gone on in Australia, but issues touching on gay, bisexual or transsexual rights in education have since struck a raw nerve.
The Isle of Wight school said it was required to “respect div¬ersity of all kinds’’ and told the parents it supported whatever decision a parent or child made about sexual identity. “If a child wants to do that (wear a dress and identify as a female) then we have to accept it,” the school told the Rowe family.
The issue has divided community opinion. Mr Rowe said: “I am shocked by the suggestion, especially from a church school, that just because we question the notion that a six-year-old boy can really become a girl, we are transphobic.”
Mrs Rowe said: “We believe (our son) was under stress by the confusion that was caused by having a boy in his class who decided he was going to have a girl’s name and dress as a girl.”
Westminster is midway through conducting a 12-week LGBT survey to help formulate further government policies that could apply to schools. In Britain, there is already a trend towards non-gender specific school uniforms and there are proposals to include a non-gender category in the breakdown of high school results, at ages of 15 and 17.
The moves come as the Nat¬ional Health Service’s Gender Identity Development Service clinic at Tavistock and Portman Trust has seen huge increases over the past two years of young people seeking referrals.
In 2016-17, 2016 referrals were received at the clinic, a 42 per cent increase on the previous year. In 2014, there were 697 referrals.
More than two-thirds were ¬females seeking to be identified as male.
The number of young people aged under 10 seeking help has quadrupled in the past six years, with the youngest aged just three.