Information about our Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit
We've answered questions you may have about the latest version of our trans inclusion guidance to schools.
About the Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit
The Trans inclusion schools toolkit is a Brighton & Hove City Council document. It is one of a range of guides developed to support schools in the city with their equality and inclusion practice. Schools then decide which guidance documents or aspects of guidance to implement in their communities.
The toolkit was first published in 2013 and has been subject to frequent reviews since. Version 4, has been subject to two stages of consultation and significant review.
It was agreed to be given to schools by Children, Young People and Skills Committee on 14 June. It will be published to schools in September 2021 and at that point a full version of the toolkit will be available on our website.
The toolkit is a long and detailed guide for trained school staff who will also exercise their professional judgement in supporting the best interests and needs of pupils and students in their schools.
There is lots of complexity in the toolkit. This page will try to explain some aspects of the toolkit. Please keep in mind the information on this page only includes part of the guidance given in the toolkit.
You can find a link to the full Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit at the bottom of this page.
What we mean by trans
‘Transgender’ or ‘trans’ is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex [registered] at birth.
Why we need the Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit
We know from local and national data that trans children and young people experience bullying in schools and in secondary schools have been found to be most at risk of developing negative mental health outcomes than other young people.
Brighton & Hove primary and secondary school staff asked the council for guidance on how to support trans and non-binary pupils and students.
The Toolkit signposts schools to the statutory guidance on safeguarding. It reminds schools that keeping trans children and young people safe from bullying is an aspect of safeguarding. It provides clear guidance on how trained staff can safely support trans and gender exploring children and young people on a case-by-case basis and whenever possible in discussion with their parents and carers.
How the toolkit fits in with the Equality Act 2010
The Act provides protection from direct and indirect discrimination in respect of the characteristic ‘gender reassignment’.
Gender reassignment is defined by the Equality Act as follows:
A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.
The Department for Education Advice on the Equality Act 2010 further states:
This definition means that in order to be protected under the Act, a pupil will not necessarily have to be undertaking a medical procedure to change their sex, but must be taking steps to live in the opposite gender or proposing to do so.
The Toolkit reminds schools they should consider equality implications when developing policy and taking decisions, not as an afterthought, and this should be kept under review.
How other groups are protected under the Equality Act
How are you ensuring all groups are safe to learn?
There is no hierarchy to the characteristics included in the Equality Act 2010, and it is expected that educational settings in Brighton & Hove work to safeguard all groups of pupils and students and balance varying needs. We provide or signpost to a range of support and guidance to schools to address the needs of other groups. Version 4 also has a section of the needs of trans children and young people who have other protected characteristics.
This toolkit focuses on the needs of trans children and young people, making clear that support for them should be made on a case by case basis, using the Toolkit for reference and requesting additional support from the council or Allsorts Youth Project if needed.
Single sex spaces
Does the toolkit recommend getting rid of single sex spaces and provision?
The toolkit does not promote the removal of single sex spaces, but does support access to single sex provision in schools on a case by case basis to trans children and young people who have taken ‘steps to live in the opposite gender’.
Will gender neutral toilets be introduced in Brighton & Hove schools?
The council does not have the power to tell schools to introduce gender neutral toilets, however, some schools already have floor to ceiling gender neutral toilets – often coming off main corridors. These have been shown to decrease behaviour and bullying incidents and the smell of urinals. Ensuring all toilets are safe spaces for all pupils and students is part of ongoing anti-bullying work in schools.
The toolkit provides guidance on the law about toilets and further states:
“Ideally, where funding and space allows; educational settings should provide pupils and students with a mixture of access to toilets that includes:
- single sex toilets
- blocks of floor to ceiling cubicle toilets that can be used by all, with bins for menstrual products in each cubicle (‘toilets for everyone’)
- accessible single toilets.”
What about the rights of girls?
The toolkit recommends to all schools that they improve their practice in preventing and responding to gender stereotypes and provide clear messages to pupils and students that there is more than one way to be a boy or a girl. Being proactive in this area protects children who do not conform to gender stereotypes, and contributes to reduction in sexist, homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Since the introduction of the toolkit in 2013, Brighton & Hove City Council has seen no evidence either in research or in the city’s schools that a trans child or young person (as defined under the gender assignment definition in the Equality Act) in a single sex facility presents any more of a threat to another child or young person than any member of their peer group.
Brighton & Hove City Council is clear that more work needs to be done to ensure the safety of girls in schools from sexist and sexual bullying and harassment as is the case nationally as shown in a recent Ofsted report. A range of council teams are supporting this work in partnership with schools and local charities.
Talking about trans issues
Will schools talking about trans issues confuse my child or make them think they might be trans?
Children and young people of all ages are asking questions about trans and non-binary identities and access information via the internet. The toolkit recommends that schools acknowledge and represent the fact that trans and non-binary exist within our society society in ways appropriate to age and learning needs. The toolkit also recommends as above that gender stereotypes are challenged and it is made clear that boys can have long hair and girls short hair for example.
Brighton & Hove is committed to working with schools to ensure that all families and identities are represented in displays and resources in order to ensure pupils and students feel a sense of belonging and are prepared for life in modern Britain. There is more work to do in this area. The Anti-Racist Schools Strategy for example includes a strand on de-colonising the curriculum.
We do not have evidence that children are confused by seeing a range of people and families represented. The toolkit makes clear that children and young people may explore aspects of their identity or ways in which they express their gender, but reminds schools not to make any assumptions that a child or young person is trans or will be trans.
What the toolkit says about parents and carers
The toolkit acknowledges that a child coming out as gender exploring, trans or non-binary may be a difficult time for some parents, carers and siblings and signposts to support for them. The toolkit recommends that schools support children and young people to discuss issues about their identity with their parents and carers.
The toolkit acknowledges the support provided by most parents and carers.
In the rare circumstances where parents and carers disagree with what the child is saying they want or need to support them in their gender identity, the school will seek support, engage in conversations with parents or carers and the child and make decisions in the best interests of the child. The decisions and reasons for them will be recorded.