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Trans issues shouldn’t be taught to children without their parents knowing, Nadhim Zahawi says

·2 min read
The Education Secretary acknowledges “particular concerns” over teaching and learning resources around gender identity - Danny Lawson/PA
The Education Secretary acknowledges “particular concerns” over teaching and learning resources around gender identity - Danny Lawson/PA

Transgender issues should not be taught to children without their parents’ knowledge, Nadhim Zahawi has said.

The Education Secretary, who has called for parents to be “front and centre” of the trans debate, is currently drafting new trans guidance for schools so they feel more supported.

Mr Zahawi acknowledged “particular concerns” over teaching and learning resources around gender identity.

Children as young as three have been read books in recent years encouraging them to question their gender.

These included short stories on reading lists that were provided by organisations such as Educate and Celebrate, which have received Department for Education funding.

Nick Fletcher, a backbench Conservative MP, told Mr Zahawi at Monday’s education questions that “caution is needed” about books that “encourage a child to question their biological sex, and to believe they were born in the wrong body because of gender nonconformity”.

Mr Fletcher urged him to ensure parents see what books are shared with children “either in lessons or the school library”.

Responding, Mr Zahawi said: “I just want to be clear here: parents should know, should know what their children are being taught in school.

“There are clear requirements on schools in relation to providing parents with information about a school’s curriculum.

“We appreciate that parents have particular concerns about gender nonconformity, which is why we are developing very clear guidance, I hope, for the front line for schools to be able to deal with this.”

Parents concerned

The Telegraph last weekend reported concerns from some parents who said teachers were affirming children’s new transgender identities without consulting them first.

Last month, Mr Fletcher sent a letter to every school in his Don Valley constituency which labelled children’s doubts over their gender identity “nothing more than a phase”.

He stated that “boys are boys and girls are girls”, and the media glamourised a “transgender lifestyle”.

In the wake of a row over exam boards ditching poems by Philip Larkin and Wilfred Owen, Mr Zahawi also reminded schools they should follow pre-existing criteria to teach Shakespeare plays and other centuries-old texts.

“The national curriculum states pupils should read a wide range of books, poems and plays to appreciate a rich literacy, literary heritage and, of course, develop a love for literature, as I did as a teenager,” Mr Zahawi said.

“This includes pre-1914 and contemporary prose poetry and drama, Shakespeare and seminal world literature. Schools have freedom to select texts, meeting these criteria.”