Teachers could find themselves in court if they tell children they cannot use opposite- sex toilets or prevent a boy from competing in girls’ sports, campaigners warned last night.
New laws are being considered to ban the cruel process of ‘conversion therapy’, under which gay people are pressured to be straight.
But campaigners say they could also be used to criminalise those who question children who want to change gender.
Teachers could find themselves in court if they tell children they cannot use opposite- sex toilets or prevent a boy from competing in girls’ sports, campaigners warned last night (stock image)
It has emerged for the first time that teachers could be covered by the new rules. The group Sex Matters said this means a teacher explaining how gender identity is different from sex – and how ‘wanting to change gender’ is not the same as being the opposite sex – might be accused of ‘conversion therapy’.
The campaigners said it means that if a school says a child is not allowed to use opposite-sex toilets or changing rooms, they could face accusations of undertaking conversion therapy. The law could also cover teachers not allowing a male child to compete in girls’ sports, or teachers refusing to change a child’s pronouns and keep their sex secret, they fear.
It comes after critics of the Conversion Therapy (Prohibition) Bill warned that parents and doctors also risked being criminalised if they questioned children who want to change gender.
Ministers have published an online consultation document on the new law, which did not reveal teachers were in its scope.
But an ‘easy reading’ guide was published earlier this week, listing teachers as the type of people who carry out ‘talking therapy’. It said talking conversion therapy could include people trying to change ‘the gender you want to be’.
Controversially, it also describes sexual orientation as meaning ‘what gender you are attracted to’ – rather than sex. The guide has since been removed from the site.
Maya Forstater, co-founder of Sex Matters, said: ‘The ‘easy reading’ guide shows how poorly thought-out this legislation is. Once the proposals are spelled out in plain language, it becomes all too easy to see what a bad idea they are.’
Maya Forstater (pictured), co-founder of Sex Matters, said: ‘The ‘easy reading’ guide shows how poorly thought-out this legislation is’
Tory backbenchers yesterday lined up to warn Boris Johnson to drop the proposals. Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said: ‘This legislation risks trampling over the vulnerabilities of children, many of whom are entering into drug treatments that are life-changing and can also make them sterile.’ Damian Green, the former first secretary of state, added: ‘The Government must extend the consultation period and commit to pre-legislative scrutiny so that this can be thought through properly, rather than simply following Stonewall’s line.’
Last night Sex Matters wrote to Equalities Minister Mike Freer to demand the consultation period on the plans to criminalise conversion therapy be extended.
‘The proposal lacks clarity,’ the letter states. ‘It is not clear what behaviour might see a parent, teacher, therapist, youth worker or charity volunteer subject to criminal investigation and threatened with imprisonment or a fine, and a criminal record.’
A spokesman for the Government’s Equality Hub said: ‘This government is committed to banning the practice of all coercive conversion therapy…’
He said that the easy-read consultation did not accurately reflect Government proposals, so it was taken down from the website.
Tim Loughton (pictured) a former children’s minister, said: ‘This legislation risks trampling over the vulnerabilities of children, many of whom are entering into drug treatments that are life-changing and can also make them sterile’
Source: Daily Mail UK