Schools not obligated to use pupils' preferred pronouns, attorney general says

Suella Braverman said it is lawful for schools to refuse to allow a biologically male child to wear a girls' uniform or participate in girls' single-sex sports.

Schools do not have a legal obligation to comply with gender preferences of their pupils, Attorney General Suella Braverman has said.

The former Tory leadership candidate says it is possible for schools to refuse to use the preferred opposite-sex pronouns of a child.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, she said schools should only affirm the gender preference of a child where it differs from their birth sex “upon the advice of an independent medical practitioner”.

She added: “Many schools and teachers believe – incorrectly – that they are under an absolute legal obligation to treat children who are gender questioning according to the preference of the child.

“I want to make it clear that it is possible, within the law, for schools to refuse to use the preferred opposite-sex pronouns of a child.”

Her comments came ahead of a speech to the Policy Exchange on Wednesday addressing equalities and rights.

Ms Braverman says it is also lawful for schools to refuse to allow a biologically male child to wear a girls’ uniform or participate in girls’ single-sex sports, while single-sex schools have the right to not admit a child of the opposite biological sex who identifies as transgender.

She also warned teachers and schools who allow students to “socially transition” to the opposite sex without the knowledge or consent of their parents may be in “breach of their duty of care to that child”.

She added that mixed schools have the legal capacity to ban biologically and legally male children, who identify as transgender, from using the girls’ toilets.

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Suella Braverman

Image: Attorney General Suella Braverman

“There is also a separate duty to provide single-sex toilets in schools, breach of which would be unlawful,” Ms Braverman said.

“When it comes to gender-questioning children, we should always have compassion. At the same time, our compassion should never blind us to the harm it is possible to do to children by misplaced affirmation.

“True diversity and equality are at risk when we divide everyone into separate groups and then silence views which may challenge those group identities. This is not what democracy is about and it is not what the law requires.”

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