Diversity Role Models is a high profile LGBT charity providing training in schools, just one of many LGBT charities and organisations whose materials have moved away from the LGB in favour of the T. Rather than teaching about the acceptance of gender non-conformity (which would support gay and lesbian pupils), their training now promotes the idea that being gender non-conforming might mean that you are the wrong sex.
Year 6 are read My Princess Boy, a true story about a small boy who wants to wear girls’ clothes. The story in itself is not the point. It is the way No Outsiders frames the book in the lesson plan that is problematic. Children would have been told that this story is relevant to the Equality Act and wrongly that there is a protected characteristic of “gender identity”. The teaching plan tells teachers where to go to find more specific picture books about “Transgender awareness”. Where a child might just accept that this is a story about a boy in a dress, the teacher is told to take an adult view of gender non-conforming behaviour and frame the story as being about a “trans child”.
An eight-year-old girl who is enquiring, maybe likes to wrestle, play football, prefers jeans to skirts, might be troubled by this definition and wonder if her favourite activities had some other meaning, that maybe she is not a girl but a boy. She might wonder why she was “given” a gender at birth, instead of simply being, as she had thought of herself up to this point, a girl.
…it was the choice of the actual “role models” that points to a staggering disregard for the needs of teenage girls. They were 2 gay men, 1 lesbian and a trans-identifying male, dressed in a short skirt, high heels, wearing false nails and covered in make-up. It is hard to understand in what way these people are suitable role models for young female teenagers. Unless of course the aim is to blur the boundaries between the sexes, to suggest that they count for little when set against the needs of trans people, and to reinforce sexist stereotypes about what it means to be a woman.
Parents, teachers and other staff need to ask some hard questions about any provider offering to do “training”. For instance, what educational background do the trainers have? Currently of the 11 staff listed on DRM’s website only two have actual classroom experience. A third person’s qualifications are in youth work and theatre in education. The majority have backgrounds in LGBT campaigning and charity work. Like Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids, Diversity Role Models has an agenda and some rich patrons.