I’ve just sent the following to the Secretary of State of Education, expressing concern about the education white paper and today’s reports that the DfE will work with Stonewall on tackling bullying. (Dr Julian Huppert MP is CCed on this as he is my local MP as well as having had some involvement with successfully debating trans issues in the House of Commons over the ID Cards Bill)
Now I’ve put that here, I’m sure people will point out some huge gaff I’ve made in the letter!
Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State of Education
25th November 2010
Dear Mr Gove,
I welcome the commitment towards tacking homophobia in schools announced in the Education White Paper as I’m sure the rest of the LGBT community does. However, although the words “homophobia” and “homophobic” appear seven times in the paper, there is no mention of transphobia and other transgender-related issues. As a result, some members of the trans community such as myself are concerned that this area may be being overlooked. Although there is some similarity in that both homophobia
and transphobia are targeted against perceived differences from “normal” behaviour for a given gender, the Trans community also faces very different challenges and inequalities to the wider LGB community which
can often be overlooked when dealing with only LGBT organisations.
I am particularly troubled bytoday’s news (http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/11/25/gove-we-will-work-with-stonewall-to-tackle-growing-anti-gay-bullying/) that you will be working with Stonewall in this area. Whilst Stonewall undoubtedly perform some very worthwhile work, they are very
specifically an LGB charity and there have been significant differences between Stonewall and the trans community over recent years. This announcement, taken on it’s own, would seem to suggest that trans issues may indeed not be being addressed.
I would therefore urge you to also ensure that some Trans-specific organisations are involved in the work you are doing. Although I do not represent them, I can recommend both GIRES (Gender Identity Research and Education Society, http://www.gires.org.uk/) and Mermaids UK (http://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/) as useful organisations to contact for information in the area of trans youth and education.
Some other useful organisations to contact would include: (Again, I do not represent or work for any of these organisations in any way)
Trans Media Watch – http://www.transmediawatch.org.uk/
A:Gender – http://www.agender.org.uk/ (A support organisation for trans members of the Civil Service)
Queer Youth Network – http://www.queeryouth.org.uk/
I would be grateful if you could confirm your departments commitment to tackling transphobia alongside homophobia and that you will engage appropriate Trans organisations in tackling inequality in schools.
Although I am not a member of that community and can not speak for them in any way, the Intersex community also faces similar issues and I would hope similar consideration is given to any areas of concern they may have.
CC: Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities
CC: Dr Julian Huppert MP, Cambridge