Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan are reportedly considering issuing new guidance to single-sex schools in England saying that they aren’t legally obliged to admit transgender pupils.
This guidance, expected to say schools will not be breaching the Equality Act if they refuse to admit transgender pupils, will cover the legal position of single-sex schools in relation to admission decisions, as well as how teachers should respond to children who are questioning their gender identity.
For instance, this could mean an all-girls’ school could reject applications from pupils who identify as female but whose legal sex is male, and vice versa for boys’ schools. School leaders will also be told they will be allowed to refuse to use a pupils’ preferred pronoun, reports suggest.
There is no suggestion that a child who is questioning their gender identity would be forced to leave a single-sex school however.
A Department for Education source told The Telegraph: “Single-sex schools can refuse to admit pupils of the other legal sex regardless of whether the child is questioning their gender.”
This new guidance comes as Kemi Badenoch is considering changing the legal definition of sex to “biological”, in a move that has been backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) but condemned by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.
It also comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised new guidance for schools on gender issues before the summer term in the wake of a “concerning” report.