Schools need to focus on safeguarding in RSE

Sex Matters and Transgender Trend have published new guidance for schools on how to support children with gender dysphoria and their peers, in line with the Equality Act 2010.

The guidance recognises that pupils who are experiencing gender issues, or who identify as transgender, should not be treated less favourably than their peers, but that schools should remember that such children have not actually changed sex.

It should be made clear to all in the school community that everyone is welcome and included – but it is not “transphobic” to recognise that everyone has a sex. This is crucial for equality, safeguarding and sex and relationships education.


The guidance, which we will be sharing with Senedd members and with the Children’s Commissioner, is much needed. While we were focusing on our election campaign, the dignity, safety and wellbeing of girls and young women continued to be put at risk, and parental responsibilities undermined.

The evidence is overwhelming.

From The Times:

A leading grammar school has been reported to the Department for Education after a newsletter, sent to girls as young as 11, explained how to bind their breasts. Pupils at Nonsuch High School in Cheam, Surrey, were sent a newsletter compiled by sixth-formers at the school, which included one item headlined: “How do I bind safely?” It included links to sites describing the practice as well as surgery to remove breast tissue if chest binding, used to achieve a “flatter, more masculine” appearance, hurt too much.

The Mail said:

A school secretly reported its chaplain to the anti-terrorism Prevent programme after he delivered a sermon defending the right of pupils to question its introduction of new LGBT policies. The Reverend Dr Bernard Randall told pupils at independent Trent College near Nottingham that they were allowed to disagree with the measures, particularly if they felt they ran contrary to Church of England principles.

The Telegraph reported that:

National transgender guidelines that would have forced girls’ schools to admit trans pupils have been quietly scrapped by the equalities watchdog, amid fierce opposition from feminists […] Schools were told to install gender-neutral lavatories and changing rooms where possible, including on residential trips, or let pupils use the facility that fits their gender identity. In PE, a boy who feels they are a girl could not be excluded from girls sports lessons. Teachers were warned refusal to call trans pupils by their new names and pronouns could break the law.

Earlier this year the Crown Prosecution Service and Oxfordshire County Council withdrew their guides in response to a case brought by two female pupils who alleged that the guidance conflicted to their right to privacy. Other councils, including several in Wales, have quietly withdrawn their guidance.

On International Women’s Day, the Women’s Equality Network Wales published resources for schools that included a link to a pornographic video of a ‘cam girl’ performing for a male client. After complaints the link was  removed. However, a bizarre set of ‘key terms’ remained in place, in spite of their irrelevance in this context and, more worryingly, their fact-free status. ‘Sex’ was defined as being ‘assigned at birth’; ‘woman/girl’ as ‘a female person. This includes transwomen and girls, as well as ciswomen and girls.’

No definition of lesbian or bisexual was included.

Merched Cymru, and several of our members, wrote to WEN to point out the lack of medical or biological evidence for these assertions, and the potential impact on girls of this ideology. Not only did they refuse to reconsider, they reused the list as part of the Urdd Peace and Goodwill Message in 2021 (the Urdd is a Welsh-medium national youth organization with over 55,000 members). Ironically the theme for the goodwill message was ‘equality for women and girls’.

We share the concerns around pornography raised by Safe Schools Alliance:

We often come across RSE and PSHE resources which seem to have been written in the belief that ‘sex education’ means educating children about the types of porn that are available. We have seen pornography described as ‘harmless’, ‘fun’ and even ’empowering’. This is not backed up by the evidence.

We believe that good quality sex education should cover pornography, and should acknowledge that it is everywhere and that children may well have seen it. However, it should also cover the harm that porn does, the way that its use affects relationships and both mental and physical health.

Their report on Pornography and Young People makes for worrying reading. Safeguarding needs to take priority over ideology.

Merched Cymru will continue to campaign for an RSE curriculum in Wales that acknowledges the negative impact of pornography, the exponential rise in cases of sexual harassment and violence against girls in our schools and colleges, and the effect of transgender ideology on their safety, dignity and boundaries.