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Liz Truss signals support for police investigation into trans charity Mermaids

mermaids uk
Mermaids UK

U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss signaled support for a police investigation into the trans charity Mermaids, saying it should be "properly looked at" during prime minister's questions in the Commons Chamber. 

The Department for Education in England has stopped referring schools to the controversial charity, which promotes transgenderism to youth, amid increased scrutiny of the organization's health recommendations for children and a scandal involving one of its trustees giving a speech for an organization that promotes resources for pedophiles.

As The Times reported Wednesday, the Charity Commission is assessing complaints against Mermaids following a report by The Daily Telegraph last week that the group sends "chest binders" to girls as young as 13 without their parents' knowledge. Binders are often used by girls seeking to flatten their breasts to resemble a boy, and they can potentially cause breathing difficulties, damage healthy breast tissue and lead to cracked ribs.  

On Wednesday, Miriam Cates, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, asked the prime minister: “Does my right honorable friend agree that it has taken far too long for these concerns to be taken seriously and does she also agree that it is high time for a police investigation into the activities of Mermaids?”

Truss replied: What I would say on the subject of the investigation she raises, of course those matters should be ... properly looked at.”

Earlier this month, The Times also reported that Jacob Breslow, a trustee for Mermaids, resigned after it was discovered he spoke at a U.S.-based B4U-ACT event in 2011. The organization promotes resources for individuals who are sexually attracted to children. In his presentation, Breslow reportedly claimed that pedophiles are misunderstood.

Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, credited parents Nigel and Sally Rowe for the Education Department's decision to stop promoting Mermaids as a mental health resource in schools. The British charity affirms children's gender confusion and is led by Susie Green, whose son identifies as female and was put on puberty blockers at age 12. 

Williams noted that the focus must now be directed toward the Church of England, which still utilizes Mermaids' strategies in its “Valuing All God’s Children” (VAGC) guidance. In 2017, VAGC cited Mermaids as a model of care. While this citation was removed in 2019, the content reportedly still influenced the current trans-affirming approach, according to CLC.

Over 4,000 of the Church of England’s primary schools utilize the VAGC guidelines, according to a November 2017 Daily Mail report. 

"The Church of England has over one million children under its care — will senior leaders finally listen and scrap this untenable advice?” Williams asked.

Christian Concern, the organization associated with CLC, launched a petition Tuesday that will be delivered to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, calling for the Church of England to scrap its trans-affirming policies. The petition currently has over 12,150 signatures.

In addition to instructing schools not to require students to wear uniforms that may “create difficulty for trans pupils,” VAGC discourages using faith or the Bible to justify refusals to accept a child identifying as the opposite gender.

Last week, the Rowes penned a letter to the archbishop, urging the Church of England to discard its VAGC policies, expressing concern that the guidance allows children as young as 5 to identify as the opposite sex. 

“In U.K. law you cannot change legal gender until you are 18 years old. Scientifically, you cannot change your biological sex,” the parents wrote.

“Furthermore, basic Christian teaching is that we are all created male or female and that the differences between the sexes are beautiful, designed and complementary, and should be respected in society. We are all created male and female (Genesis 1:27).” 

Despite opting to homeschool their children, the parents wrote that they remain concerned about the effect that the school’s policies may have on other children. According to the Rowes, much of the “confusion” and “distress” their sons experienced in school from having to refer to their friends as the opposite sex has lifted since their parents pulled them out. 

The letter follows a $24,956 (£22,000) settlement the Department of Education paid the Rowes in September for “legal costs and a commitment from the government to reform transgender policies,” according to the Christian Legal Centre. 

The CLC supported the parents’ taking legal action against the department in 2021 after the Church of England's Portsmouth Diocesan Board of Education dismissed their complaint in 2017, citing the VAGC guidelines.

One of the Church of England's primary schools had labeled their son “transphobic” for refusing to abide by the school’s trans-affirming policies. 

The parents also raised concerns about the school allowing two 6-year-old boys in their sons’ classes to identify as girls without a psychological assessment. In opposition to the school’s policies, the Rowes decided to homeschool their children instead. 

The letter cites an August speech at the Policy Exchange by Suella Braverman, who was then the attorney general, and said there is no “absolute legal obligation” to affirm children who might be questioning their gender identity. She noted that schools sometimes allow children to use pronouns or compete on sports teams designated for the opposite sex without their parents’ knowledge. 

“Anyone who questions such an approach is accused of transphobia. In my view, this approach is not supported by the law,” Braverman said. 

The Rowes contended in their letter that this statement from the then-attorney general proves that the Church of England’s VAGC policies in schools have no legal basis. 

“We, therefore, ask you to commit to scrapping the Valuing All God’s Children guidance as a matter of urgency so that staff and children in Church of England schools are properly safeguarded and protected from harmful transgender ideology and practice,” the parents wrote.

“We also request a meeting with you to discuss these points and what the Church of England will do about them at your earliest convenience.”

In July, the Church of England responded to a question from the General Synod, the denomination's legislative body, about its definition of a woman. 

The Rev. Robert Innes, the denomination's bishop in Europe, responded that “There is no official definition, which reflects the fact that until fairly recently definitions of this kind were thought to be self-evident, as reflected in the marriage liturgy.”

Innes cited the church’s “Living in Love and Faith” project, which the church website describes as a “discerning way forward” for the church regarding “identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage.” 

Pointing to “the marriage complexities associated with gender identity,” Innes claimed that the project “points to the need for additional care and thought to be given in understanding our commonalities and differences as people made in the image of God.”

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com.

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