Shocked Parents Get UK Gov't to Remove Question Asking Kids If They 'Feel Different' to Birth Gender

Lulu, a transgender girl, leans on a hammock at her home in Buenos Aires.
Lulu, a transgender girl, leans on a hammock at her home in Buenos Aires. | (Photo: Reuters)

Criticism by shocked parents and politicians has forced the U.K.'s National Health Service to remove a question asking primary school children if they "feel different" to the gender they were born with.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust will no longer be widely asking the question, which is found on surveys that 10- and 11-year-olds are given to complete.

"We recognize that these are important issues and the need for sensitivity and an appropriate approach, particularly with very young children," a spokesperson added.

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"As such we will be adopting a more targeted approach to this in the future rather than asking this question universally of all children."

The Trust explained that the question had been added following advice from "sexual health specialists, the charity Lancashire LGBT and primary schools," who said that there has been a growing number of school age children asking for advice and support on the matter.

MailOnline has reported that many parents insisted that the question wasn't apprporate, with parent Claire Beverley writing: "I got a letter from NHS Lancashire telling me that all year six children will be required to fill out a health questionnaire in school to help them better understand the needs of children in the area."

The mother continued: "Now, that doesn't sound too bad does it? But when I followed the link to the questionnaire I was really shocked at the type of questions they are asking, bearing in mind that these are still only 10- and 11-year-old children."

Michael Beverley said: "Asking a 10,11 year old to clearly explain themselves on paper in a format they'll mostly associate with 'testing' can't possibly yield useful results.

"The government should be spending the money/energy on encouraging and educating teachers and parents to ask these questions," he added.

Tim Loughton, a Conservative Party politician and former children's minister, argued that such questions are "deeply worrying."

"At a time when children are growing up and having to deal with all sorts of challenges of the modern world, now they are being asked to confront their gender, which for many will be unsettling," Loughton said.

"Clearly we need to be sensitive about the issue of gender and sexual orientation but forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilizing."

Lancashire County Council admitted that the questionnaire needs more work, and said: "We agree that more consultation is needed before deciding whether to include questions about gender and other sensitive health issues in this assessment."

Back in July, statistics revealed that the number of children being referred to gender identity clinics in the U.K. has quadrupled in the past five years.

Numbers from the Gender Identity Development Service showed that 84 children aged between 3 and 7 were referred to the clinic last year, while only 20 received such a referral in 2012 and 2013.

"It has become an industry, people are making a career out of encouraging children to question gender at an age when they need to be left to be children. When teachers raise these issues children can become confused or unhappy and traumatized by it," Chris McGovern, a former adviser to the Department for Education, said at the time.

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