Parents’ anger as primary school plans to introduce transgender education for children as young as four
Parents have threatened to take their children out of classes after a primary school announced plans to introduce transgender education into the curriculum.
Meopham Community Academy in Kent is proposing to educate its pupils, who range from the age of four to eleven, on terms such as transgender, non-binary, and assigned sex.
Children in Years 1 and 2 will be taught how to combat negative gender stereotypes, while those in Years 5 and 6 will learn about issues relating to transgenderism and gender identity – and look at understanding, identifying, and defining different sexual orientations.
But the proposed shake-up to the curriculum has already received an intense backlash – with a forum between parents, teachers, and school leaders reportedly becoming ‘heated’.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, commented: ‘The meeting was very heated.
‘There were lots of complaints.
Michele Sowden-Mehta, senior school improvement lead at The Golden Trust Alliance, which runs Meopham, said the forum was held to hear views
‘People are worried the content does not feel age-appropriate.’
Other parents threatened to remove their children from the lessons if they go ahead as planned.
However, some parents voiced their support for the idea, with Zoe Aglan remarking: ‘I think the earlier we educate children about LGBTQ+, the better.
‘Ideally, one day we will reach a stage in society where everyone will be accepted and there will be no need for these focused lessons.
‘I see these initiatives as part of the journey to achieve that.’
Michele Sowden-Mehta, senior school improvement lead at The Golden Trust Alliance, which runs Meopham, said: ‘The purpose of the forum was to hear the views of parents specifically around the content being taught and when they feel it is age-appropriate to introduce these themes to their children.
Meopham Community Academy in Kent is proposing to educate its pupils, who range from the age of four to eleven, on terms such as transgender, non-binary, and assigned sex
‘We understand that every parent wants the very best for their child, and, when opinions differ, the discussion can become heated.
‘The vast majority of feedback we have received to date has been supportive and we will continue the discussions with parents, carers, and the wider school community through a formal consultation in the new year.’
Ms Sowden-Mehta also stressed that the plans are part of ‘a larger review’ to ensure school curriculums promote inclusion and diversity.
She explained: ‘This is not only about children who identify as LGBTQ+. This is about all children.
‘We know for example that children who do not fit into typical gender stereotypes, such as boys who do not enjoy football, are much more likely to be bullied than those who do.
‘Or, children who do not live with a mum and a dad, but with two mums or one parent or a grandparent, and may feel that they are different to others.
‘We want them to understand that everyone’s situation may be different but those around them love them very much.
‘However, for pupils who do identify as LGBTQ+, we know that they are twice as likely to be bullied.
‘The impact this has on a person’s mental health can be devastating, with LGBTQ+ young people being two times more likely to contemplate suicide, and Black LGBTQ+ young people three times more likely.’
According to a 2021 independent research report by charity Just Like Us, LGBTQ+ pupils were twice as likely to be bullied – and 91% had heard negative language about those who identify as part of the community.
The study, which surveyed 2,934 pupils aged 11 – 18 across the UK, also found that schools with positive messaging around being LGBTQ+ were less likely to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings.
It claims that 74 per cent of LGBTQ+ pupils who have never had positive messaging from their school about being LGBTQ+ had contemplated suicide, a number which dropped to 65 per cent when they had had positive messaging from their school.
The new programme at Meopham Community Academy has been spearheaded by The Golden Thread Alliance Trust, which runs the school.
It will see the children taking part in a range of new classes and workshops, while staff will receive training from Pop n Olly – one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ educational resources.
The shake-up to the trust’s ‘Relationships and Sex Education’ curriculum will first be piloted at Meopham, before potentially being rolled out to nine other schools in the area.
A spokesperson from The Golden Alliance Trust said that when reviewing the content of the curriculum, it would take into account pupils’ ages, maturity levels, and cultural and religious backgrounds.
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