UK parents win gov't commitment to reform school guidance on trans-identified students, awarded $23K

Nigel and Sally Rowe
Nigel and Sally Rowe | Christian Legal Centre

Christian parents in the United Kingdom, who pulled their children out of a church-run school due to its guidance on trans-identified students, have been awarded over $23,900 in legal costs and a commitment from the British government to reform trans-affirming policies in schools.

The victory for Nigel Rowe, 49, and his wife, Sally, 47, comes after a five-year legal battle, according to the Christian Legal Centre, which represents the parents. The parents raised concerns after two boys in their sons' classes at the age of 6 were allowed to identify as girls at the Isle of Wight school.

In July 2017, the Church of England officials wrote to the Rowes, explaining the school doesn't require any form of medical or psychological evaluation when a student requests to be affirmed as a member of the opposite sex. 

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The family was given an ultimatum to accept the policy or leave the school. They and their 6-year-old sons were told by a Church of England primary school that they would be labeled "transphobic" if they refused to accept policies that require affirmation of two trans-identified students' gender identities. 

The family says their complaint to the Department of Education was rejected, and the department "refused to properly assess this evidence." The couple took legal action against the Department for Education.

After the Rowes won permission for a judicial review of the government's policies, CLC reports that the government settled the case rather than go through a full judicial review.  

"We are delighted with the outcome and pray that it will contribute to real change in primary schools," the couple said in a statement. 

"The new guidance must ensure that no more children come to harm. Transgender affirming policies must end in schools and issues with gender confused children compassionately and professionally managed outside of the classroom.

"Many have tried to make light of this issue by suggesting it is just about boys dressing up. This case has always been about a dangerous ideology that is now firmly embedded in schools, local authorities, and Church of England leadership, and which is causing serious long-term harm to thousands of children."

CLC Chief Executive Andrea Williams said the Rowes were "the first parents to expose transgender ideology in our primary schools five years ago."

"At the time, for their courage and determination to expose the truth, they were ostracised by their local community and faced personal abuse for daring to question policies which they believed were harmful," Williams said.

Transgender Guidelines of Cornwall Schools, published in 2015 by campaigners for transgenderism, direct schools to create gender-neutral bathrooms and allow students to wear clothes matching their gender identity rather than biological sex. The guidelines urge teachers and governors to affirm the gender identities of trans-identified students.

According to the CLC, the guidelines have been held up as best practices for other schools and adopted by the Department of Education since 2018. 

A high court order confirming the settlement states that the Department of Education is developing guidance on transgender issues "in conjunction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with a view to undertaking a public consultation on draft guidance." The order stipulates that the department will consult on fresh guidance this fall. 

"We've seen the regret of people who have gone down the transgender route; we've seen the rising statistics of children being pushed down that road — and the more you affirm a child as transgender, the further down that pathway they go," the Rowes said in their statement. "This is a health crisis. It's about pushing an agenda in schools, and now the numbers are off the scale. It's devastating."

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