School writes to parents of six-year-old for 'transphobic behaviour'

School warns Christian parents of six-year-old that he could be considered ‘transphobic’ after he was ‘confused by a boy wearing a dress’

  • Parents from the Isle of Wight were warned their children may be ‘transphobic’
  • Their children’s Church of England school declared that pupils not using desired pronouns or adopted names would be seen as exhibiting ‘transphobic behaviour’
  • Nigel and Sally Rowe earlier pulled their kids out of school over a uniform row 
  • Their six-year-old son came home confused that a kid in his class wore a dress 
  • Mr Rowe and Mrs Rowe say the rules ‘confused’ their sons and are too complex
  • The couple argued a six-year-old is not able to make decisions on their pronouns 

Primary school staff on the Isle of Wight warned a six-year-old boy’s parents that he may be deemed ‘transphobic’ if he were to question another pupil wearing a dress.

Sally and Nigel Rowe, whose sons attended a Church of England school, say they received a letter from the headteacher and chair of governors which declared pupils could be seen as transphobic if they showed ‘an inability to believe a transgender person is actually a ”real” female or male.’

They claim the letter also added that refusing to use a transgender pupil’s adopted name or gender appropriate pronouns would be considered ‘transphobic behaviour’.

The Rowes pulled their children out of school in 2016 and 2017 after one of their sons came home confused that a boy in his class had begun inconsistently wearing a dress and identifying as a girl.

The couple, who now home-school both their children on the Isle of Wight, have objected to the guidance being given at their children’s former school and called for a judicial review of the Department for Education’s decision to provide guidelines on the issue to state schools. 

They were granted permission for a judicial challenge and a hearing will take place later this year. 

Pictured: Nigel and Sally Rowe have instructed a legal team to challenge their sons’ school’s transgender policies

Nigel and Sally Rowe have objected to the guidance being given at their two sons’ Church of England school

The Rowes told The Times that the letter they received from the school was ‘cold’ and did not attempt to address their concerns.   

Mr Rowe said: ‘One of the main issues we struggled with in relation to the letter was that it said that if our six-year-old son did not recognise the other boy as a little girl or a little boy, then he would be deemed transphobic. And our son had to use the correct pronouns.

‘I don’t think that a six-year-old has the cognisant ability to work that out, especially if the child is gender fluid. And the letter also said that we as parents would be deemed to be transphobic if we didn’t accept that position.’ 

A DfE spokesman said: ‘We recognise that issues relating to gender identity can be complex and sensitive. Schools are best placed to work with parents, pupils and public services to decide what is best for individual children and what is best for all others in the school.’ 

The judicial review later this year will examine the DfE’s promotion of Cornwall Schools Transgender Guidance, which aims to support transgender pupils. 

These guidelines – which the couple say must be replaced with something that ‘protects children from partisan materials that lead them down a road of irreversible harm’ – state that transgender pupils ‘should be able to wear the uniform of their true gender’.

The guidelines add: ‘Provided the child is dressing in an appropriate manner for the school regulations, feels safe and supported and the clothes they are wearing are appropriate for them, there should not be an issue.

‘Where children are free to choose clothing, making a transition from M2F (male to female) or F2M (female to male) may be harder as the change in clothing may be more obvious.’

The Rowes first publicly objected to the guidance in 2017 when they removed their second son from the school.

They believe it is wrong that young children have to confront the complex issue of transgenderism, and took action after their six-year-old son came home ‘confused as to why a boy was now a girl’. 

His brother, eight, was withdrawn in 2016 over a similar incident.

Mr and Mrs Rowe accused the school of failing to respect their right to bring up their children in accordance with their religious values. 

Mr and Mrs Rowe accused the school of failing to respect their right to bring up their children in accordance with their religious values

Nigel and Sally Rowe, who live on the Isle of Wight, first publicly objected to the guidance in 2017

They said parents have not been consulted about the school’s policies to tackle transphobic behaviour, introduced to comply with the 2010 Equality Act.

According to the Times, the couple said that when they raised the issue, the school gave them the choice of ‘either affirming transgenderism, which they believe is harmful, or being labelled as transphobic’.

Mr Rowe said: ‘This is not just about boys wearing dresses. This case is about an ideology that is now embedded in schools, local authorities, and Church of England leadership, and is causing serious long-term harm to thousands of children.

‘We believe it is wrong to encourage very young children to embrace transgenderism. Boys are boys and girls are girls. Gender dysphoria is something we as Christians need to address with love and compassion, but not in the sphere of a primary school environment.

‘We took this action with heavy hearts, but having seen how this issue has escalated, we feel vindicated and believe the government must be challenged.

‘The Cornwall Guidelines must be scrapped and replaced with a policy that protects children from partisan materials that lead them down a road of irreversible harm.’

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