Schools (Gender and Parental Rights)

– in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 27 June 2023.

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Votes in this debate

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Reclaim, North West Leicestershire 1:35, 27 June 2023

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit the promotion of social transition practices in schools;
to require schools to inform parents if their child has indicated an intention to pursue, or has commenced, social transition;
to provide for a right for parents to access information about lessons in schools;
to make provision about the teaching of the concept of gender identity in schools;
and for connected purposes.

The issue that I bring to the House today needs a Bill, the very necessity of which is both grotesque and revealing of an absurdity: the turning of a blind eye to the real-world effects that seemingly good-faith legislation has had on our education system, on schools and on society as a whole.

So that we can all be clear about what the proposed Bill refers to, let me start by defining the terms that it mentions. “Gender identity” is the theory that, although we may be biologically male or female, the more important characteristic is what we actually feel like on the inside. “Social transitioning” is the conscious act of self-rejection of our biological reality.

Cases of that happening used to be one of the clearest examples we had ever seen of an exception that proves the rule, but I am sickened to say that, under all our noses, members of society who are either politically or educationally tasked with helping to bring up our children have turned raising the next generation into a science experiment, with consequences that break my heart.

In schools today, it is rapidly becoming taught that it is a normal and common experience not to feel at home in our own bodies, and that the reason we feel like that is likely to be because we, as a person, are simply trapped in the body of the opposite sex. In some schools, one in 15 children now identify as something different from their actual biological sex.

The exceptions that proved the rule are now becoming the rule. We have started to blur the lines of basic reality, and have turned what was already an extremely complex world for children to get to grips with into a more complex one. To paraphrase Douglas Murray, there is just about nothing more formative to our grip on reality than the realities of sex. The first, most basic, most instinctive thing we become aware of when we are growing up or even meeting someone new is simply that there are boys and there are girls. In dismantling that, we dismantle the world and pull out a foundational block of society. Who knows where the Jenga tower may fall? But one thing is certain: the tower will fall, and we should all be ashamed that we would doom our children to such a fate.

Social transition practices in schools have now become the norm in every classroom in the country. They are promoted as a normal and healthy response to natural feelings that children experience during the difficult period that we used just to call “growing up.” There is not a single child in our schools today who has not been exposed to these practices. They include the policing of language by mandating the use of a child’s preferred pronouns—referring to a boy as “she” or “her” instead of “he” or “him”, or vice versa—and the use of body alterations to reflect a transition to the opposite sex, which primarily take the form of surgical castration for boys, double mastectomies for girls, Frankenstein-esque genitalia being created from grafts of skin, and drugs to pause or halt puberty. Teachers, students or even parents who do not oblige are punished and ostracised. In Canada, calling a child by their “wrong pronoun” is already a crime.

The common consensus is that this gender-based ideology came from adolescents who are more inclined to adopt so-called progressive and liberal values, but that could not be further from the truth. The origins of gender ideology came from rogue academics in the 20th century who have since been discredited, laying the groundwork for future socialist thinkers to start making more and more wild claims about the nature of our societies.

George Bernard Shaw was one of those who opened Pandora’s box by coining anti-family rhetoric and promoting the rejection of societal gender norms. In 1928, Shaw wrote:

“The social creed must be imposed on us when we are children… It is quite easy to give people a second nature, however unnatural, if you catch them early enough.”

Those are chilling words, yet here we are, voluntarily following his playbook.

This did not come from our children spending more and more time in the echo chamber of social media; it has been clinically and systematically imposed on them from the top down. Gender ideology is a political ideology—one that is being, effectively, promoted in schools, and that therefore constitutes political indoctrination, which, under section 406 of the Education Act 1996, is strictly prohibited.

Any who would argue that gender identity is protected by the Equality Act 2010, and can therefore be discussed in schools, would have grossly misinterpreted the Equality Act, as gender identity is not a protected characteristic. There is a reason why we are careful what topics we broach with children and teach them at young ages. Why have we forgotten that?

If it were at all possible, it gets much worse. The public are rightly shocked when they learn just how graphic and extensive sex education lessons have become in our schools. Five-year-olds are being taught to identify different genitalia in class. Nowhere in the guidance on sex education lessons does the Department for Education discuss nine-year-old children being taught about masturbation or witnessing dolls simulate sex acts, or 11 to 12-year-olds being taught that they can feel pleasure from anal or oral sex. Does this depravity know no bounds?

Not only are these topics being broached, but pre-pubescent children are being encouraged to explore their own bodies in this manner. It borders on criminality when adults are suggesting that children as young as eight should engage in adult activities. We have a duty to safeguard our children, preserve their innocence and protect them from the complexities of adult life until they reach an appropriate age, when they are mature enough to engage with topics and fully understand them.

What is happening in our schools is unacceptable, and there is a need for immediate action. Classrooms should be a safe harbour. Inclusivity has become a double-edged sword, cutting through the very fabric of childhood. Every child has the right to innocence and immunity from the sexual perversions of adults.

When teaching sex education—a topic where a bridge should stand between parents and teachers—a barricade has formed. Parents have been left in the dark and even actively blocked from seeing the material taught to their own children. We must act now and hope that the damage already done will not be too long-lasting.

The Bill I propose today will prop up existing legislation aimed at protecting our children and put an end to this dark chapter. Social transition in children will be forbidden. The promotion of social transitioning and the discussion of social transitioning practices will be prohibited from appearing in any aspect of a school curriculum. Local authorities, governing bodies or headteachers shall immediately inform parents or carers of any child who indicates intent to socially transition or who has commenced the process of socially transitioning. Moreover, when the parents of a child who has considered socially transitioning have been informed, the relevant safeguarding policies shall be adhered to and the relevant safeguarding leads shall be notified.

Parents will be entitled to the right to consultation, the right to withdraw their children from sex education and the right to have access to the materials used as part of that sexual education. Schools will only be allowed to use published, citeable resources that are reliably available for public and regulatory scrutiny. The Bill will uphold and reinforce the provisions laid out in the Education Act 1996 and will forbid the promotion of gender identity. Where gender identity is taught, it will be taught alongside opposing views to allow for a fair presentation of political beliefs.

Relationships and sex education lessons and personal, social, health and economic education lessons were brought in to sensibly and safely inform our children about topics necessary to keep them safe from harm. Let us get a grip of the legislation and deliver on the original intended purpose. Our children are not guinea pigs; it is high time that this House took charge and stopped allowing ideologies passed down from mad scientists that treat them as such. My proposed Bill will protect children, reassure parents and offer certainty to teachers. I wish with all my heart that it was not necessary, but it is needed—and it is desperately needed.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter 1:45, 27 June 2023

I would like to make it clear to the House that I was not intending to speak in this debate when I came to work today, but I and a number of colleagues were so appalled by the Bill’s contents—as we were by that speech—that we felt it was important to send a clear message from this place, particularly to young LGBT people and their families, that this nasty Bill does not represent the views of Parliament.

Trans and non-binary people have always existed. Gender dysphoria has been an internationally recognised condition for decades. Coming out as trans or non-binary is never easy and often extremely difficult. That is why, historically, so many trans people have suppressed their gender dysphoria, leading to high levels of mental illness and, all too often, sadly, suicide. Better knowledge and a much wider acceptance of gender non-conformity in recent years, particularly among the younger generation, have thankfully made it easier for trans and non-binary young people to come out. Of course, that can pose challenges to schools, but schools have become very experienced at handling social transitioning with sensitivity and professionalism.

This Bill would turn the clock back to an age in which the very existence of trans and non-binary people—a tiny minority—was simply not acknowledged. It would force young people to continue living in the gender assigned at birth, even when, as in the vast majority of cases, they have the full support of their parents to transition and live in their chosen gender. Parents would face the impossible choice of forcing their child to continue living in the gender they no longer identify with—with all the negative, often devastating, impacts on that child’s mental health—or removing them from school and educating them at home. There is no evidence that the way schools currently deal with this very small number of cases is not working.

For young LGBT people whose families are not supportive of their sexuality or gender identity, the consequences of this Bill would be even worse: it would, in effect, force schools to out LGBT students. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says that young people should never, ever be outed against their will, except when serious safeguarding concerns require it. One third of homeless young people are LGBT people who have been rejected by their families. The Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity that does fantastic work with homeless young LGBT people, has seen a 70% increase in referrals in the last three years, and half of LGBT young people report that they would be worried about coming out to their families because of hostility from one or more family member.

This Bill is not about the welfare of young people, and it is not about the smooth running of our schools; it is about a cynical but completely transparent attempt, by a conspiracy theorist who is too right-wing even for today’s Conservative party, to stoke the culture wars on the backs of our most vulnerable minority and their families. It is despicable. I urge colleagues in this House to give it a resounding thumbs down.

Question put (Standing Order No. 23).

The House proceeded to a Division.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Perhaps the Serjeant could make sure that everything is okay in the Division Lobbies.

Division number 272 Schools (Gender and Parental Rights)

Aye: 33 MPs

No: 39 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

Tellers

No: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House having divided: Ayes 34, Noes 40.

Question accordingly negatived.