Health Care

Let children dress up as boys or girls, CofE tells schools

Let children dress up as boys or girls, CofE tells schools”

It says: 'For example, a child may choose the tutu, princess's tiara and heels and/or the fireman's helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment.

The report, which covers almost 4,700 schools under its remit, said that the aim of the guidance was to prevent pupils in Church of England schools and academies from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their "perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity".

In advice to its 4,700 schools, which teach a million pupils, the church said that children should be allowed to "explore the possibilities of who they might be".

It also makes clear that whilst there is a range of beliefs on LGBT identities within the church, there "can be no justification" for anti-LGBT bullying based on Christian faith the Bible. Childhood has a sacred space for creative self-imagining.

A section for secondary schools builds on this theme, suggesting that "young adults need to be offered the freedom that was afforded to the child in nursery of the metaphorical dressing up box of trying on identities without assumption or judgement".

It warns that no child should be bullied due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity and schools must work to make sure they offer a welcoming atmosphere to all pupils.

'Of course, we shouldn't conflate the two.

The update includes advice on combatting transphobic bullying and advice to teachers on allowing children to express themselves, particularly through dress-up and play. What a four-year-old might try on when they dress up may be rather different from what they would wear as a teenager.

School uniforms are also discussed in the 48-page document, pointing out that inflexible uniform policies can affect transgender children. The Church educates one million pupils in almost 5,000 schools. However, there needs to be a faithful and loving commitment to remain in relationship with the other and honour the dignity of their humanity without "back turning", dismissing the other person, or claiming superiority'.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the lobby group Christian Concern, said the new advice was "unkind, unloving and lacking in compassion".

However, the Church called for an end to bullying on the basis of being different.

"We are getting to the point where if you are not careful, the slightest slip from the correct agenda in a Church of England school will get you punished", she told the conservative tabloid The Daily Mail.

Instances of young people committing suicide because of bullying are cited, alongside Stonewall statistics suggesting that "84 per cent of trans young people and 61 per cent of lesbian, gay, and bi young people have self-harmed", and that "45 per cent of trans young people and 22 per cent of lesbian, gay, and bi young people who aren't trans have attempted to take their own life".

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