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Calls for action in schools over rights of pupils to self-identify

© Ross CraePost Thumbnail

There are warnings of havoc in Scotland’s schools amid claims of a lack of clarity and guidance over children’s rights, with one pupil identifying as a fox.

Secondary teachers have been left fearful of disciplinary action for either denying children their rights on the one hand or indulging bizarre whims on the other.

Now union leaders are demanding ministers and town halls act decisively to clear up the moral minefield.

This week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered headteachers down south to confront outlandish identities in the wake of flashpoints in England and Wales in which children have declared themselves to be cats, dinosaurs, horses…and even a moon.

But The Sunday Post can reveal that the trend has arrived in Scotland as well with one youngster insisting they should be treated as a fox.

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, believes a lack of guidance from the Scottish Government as to how teachers should react in such cases is at fault.

“The door has been opened to all sorts of strange things, and it’s an environment that is very toxic,” he said.

“Our job is to try to protect teachers and stop them from getting into more trouble than they’re already in.

“It’s a very difficult time for teachers…they feel they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Our legal advisers have highlighted the case of someone in Scotland who thought they were a fox, and the complications of such a case.

“[When a child self-identifies], there are implications for things like toilets and school trips – it’s not straightforward.

“Our advice to teachers is that if a child tells them something like this, they mustn’t keep it confidential – speak to a senior person at the school, and tell the young person that is what you will do.

“Unions are only part of the story though. Councils have to decide what happens in their schools and provide advice to teachers but councils will look to the Scottish Government for guidance too.”

How schools deal with identity came into sharp focus in England this week after a teacher was recorded telling a 13-year-old she was “despicable” for challenging the theory around multiple genders and contesting a classmate’s apparent belief that she is a cat.

Meanwhile, reports emerged of a Welsh pupil being allowed to “meow” when answering questions in lessons and another wearing a cape and claiming to be a moon.

The PM took a stand on the issue, his spokesman insisting: “It’s important parents and carers are reassured that children aren’t being influenced by personal views of those teaching them.

“Any example that strays from this would be wrong and we would expect headteachers to act.”

No further information is known about the Scottish pupil identifying as a fox.

But London headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh – renowned as England’s strictest in the state system – recently told a conference: “You all have no idea just how bad things are in schools.

“There are kids right now, in some schools, with tails and ears pinned to their heads and bottoms.”

Stuart Waiton, chair of the Scottish Union for Education, which opposes transgender ideology in the classroom, said: “Many teachers get stuck trying to follow government guidelines that encourage transgenderism and therefore encourage children to self-identify.

“Once that becomes the norm, anything goes, and the reality of two sexes disappears in a sea of never-ending genders and new forms of identity.”

Last night, Scottish Conservative shadow minister for children and young people Meghan Gallacher said: “Our teachers, who are under enough pressure already due to a lack of support from the SNP, should not be left feeling like they have to walk on eggshells in the classroom.

“As those representing teachers point out, the SNP’s policies are contributing to toxic situations like this.

“Given all the other challenges facing our schools, ministers must ensure that a common-sense approach is taken and our teachers are fully aware of what guidance to follow when these issues arise.”

The Scottish Government wouldn’t commit to clarifying its advice to teachers.

A spokesman said: “Schools should be a safe, supportive environment for all pupils, regardless of gender, where everyone’s rights are respected.

“The Scottish Government, Education Scotland and their partners have frameworks and programmes aimed at ensuring that equality and diversity are at the heart of the school experience.”