Scottish Union for Education – Newsletter No42 – Part 2
Newsletter Theme: Transgender ideology and nurseries
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Transgender nursery teacher in Glasgow: kindness, law and truth
Kate Deeming is SUE’s Parent and Supporters Group Coordinator
In 2010, when gender reassignment was voted to be included in the Equality Act, I can imagine that many did not think what impacts embedding a lie into law would have. Citizens were told of a small cohort of individuals who were distressed about their physical bodies and that allowing them this ‘one small thing’ would allow them to ‘get on with their lives’. It sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it?
Within the context of our liberal society, ‘live and let live’ is a mantra as familiar as day into night.
But law is not designed to facilitate ‘live and let live’ but to help us to navigate societal situations for a smoother and safer world and decide on things that are not easy. The basis of this particular law seems to have been decided as a matter of kindness, and that ‘kindness’ premeditates us all to lie. One has to wonder if that is a good way to legislate. Men cannot be women. Women cannot be men. There are two sexes. (Note: what are sometimes termed intersex conditions are disorders of sexual development, not a third sex.)
Creating this legal fiction was always going to have larger implications.
On Friday 27 October, I received a worried phone call from a friend. Her 4-year-old daughter had come home from nursery visibly distressed. This was unusual. She asked her daughter about her day, and her daughter revealed that there was a ‘man-woman’ as a new nursery teacher. The daughter was upset about this. She could see the individual was male but was being instructed to call the individual female and to use female pronouns. This did not make sense to her.
The mother went into the nursery to ask about the new staff member and was told ‘this person was hired as female and is female’. They offered to ‘have a word’ with the wee girl, assuring the mother that ‘she would be fine’. The mother was not comfortable with this, as she felt her daughter would be instructed to not trust her instincts and to lie.
This mother is a first-generation Scottish woman whose family comes from Pakistan. As she speaks English and Urdu/Punjabi fluently, the other parents with less English started to come to her as they also were having questions from their children and did not have the social confidence or language skills to address it. The mother passed all the info she had to the parents but was focused on helping her child relieve her distress.
In the meantime, I received other worried messages from parents who were wondering what to do. They did not want their children to be taught to lie and for their children to go against their instincts.
The mother went to speak to the nursery again about how to resolve this and was told that because she was talking to other parents, this was considered ‘organising’ against this particular staff member – that this was akin to harassment and she could have the police phoned on her! They told her that any problems must not be dealt with collectively and that she was not permitted to organise with other parents about the shared issue that was impacting upon their families. They offered again to speak to the child individually and ‘help her to adjust’ to this new staff member.
The mother was understandably worried. She does not wish to deny anyone their right to work, but she doesn’t want her child to be taught to go against her instincts and to lie.
What does one do?
As I understand it, legally the rights of an adult’s identity in this instance do trump the child’s right to tell the truth. Where does believing in this legal fiction get you, ultimately?
The nursery years are very important developmentally, as children are learning to make sense of their physical and ethical world.
Dr Jenny Cunningham, paediatrician, states, ‘Sex stereotypes are useful for children aged 4–5 years in terms of beginning to categorize groups of things. For example, beginning to put all cats into the category ‘cats’, and recognise the categories ‘boys’ and ‘girls’. However, the latter only become stable at around 5–6 years, when children understand that they are a boy or girl, and this will not change. Children can continue to confuse sex pronouns as late as 7 years of age. It has to be confusing to children to then be met with discussions about multiple ‘genders’.’
Sex categorising becomes quite important as a child gets older, as noted in the recent court case of ‘HMA v Andrew Miller’. Regarding the horrific instance of a girl being abducted and subjected to the worst sexual torment you can imagine, the judge’s statement reads:
I am referring to your female presentation as you invited your victim into your car. One only has to ask oneself the simple question: would an 11-year-old girl have willingly entered your car had you presented as a man? The answer is that obviously she would not.
This is not to say that the nursery worker is an abuser; no one has any issue with this particular individual personally. The problem is the lie, and where that lie corrupts child development and where that leads, for life. Because when we teach children to go against their instincts, the fall-out is potentially immense.
Ironically, education is full of confused talk about children’s rights and the ‘voice of the child’, but when children express their discomfort or confusion around an issue that does not suit the ‘correct thinking’ establishment, their voices magically disappear. Instead, we find the sudden need to ‘adjust’ the child and to force them to accept and become a part of the politicised ideology of the education establishment.
Some will point out that this staff member is free to ‘wear what they want to wear’ and ‘express themselves as they wish’. This is the individual adult’s rights over the sense of responsibility to those children. Could the individual wear fetish gear? Could they come to work in a bikini? The law may not be able to legislate on this, but surely at a societal level adults should have a greater sense of moral and ethical responsibility to children over their own needs and wants. Surely this staff member, if they cared about the children, would not want them to be confused, would not want to place them into this ethical, moral and developmental quandary.
Years ago, I had a chat with my father about women’s spaces. My father understands that him being excluded from certain spaces is not a reflection of his character but of the need to put other people – in that case, women – before his own needs.
Good laws should be robust. They should consider how they impact upon society at the edges, in the corners and unseen spaces. What we are seeing now is how bad laws do not protect all the citizens – in this case the most vulnerable, our children. Nor do they reflect the wishes of parents. But there are also common and natural laws. And truth, in that regard, is as old as time itself.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. For SUE, it is important to give the mother in this case, and indeed all parents, a forum in which to speak and to speak together, to limit the harm of indoctrination taking place within education, and to re-establish a public, parental and collective form of common sense into our schools.
Dr Jenny Cunningham’s pamphlet, ‘Transgender ideology in Scottish schools: what’s wrong with government guidance?’, is available to download for free here.
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