Government’s Transgender Action Plan published

The long-awaited Transgender Action Plan has just been published and is available from the Home Office web site.

I will need to sit down with my notes to see what, if anything, is missing from the workshops we held last year and to scrutinise the wording. From a quick pass, there are are few hard policy areas (Rather than just soft information-publishing initiatives) that jump out:

  • A welcome focus on health (i.e. NHS) issues.
  • Looking at gender markers on passports is mentioned, something that has already been announced. I would like this to have gone further to include other forms of ID (E.g. driving licenses) but even getting one form of ID to be optionally gender-free is a precedent. I’m also aware that at least some government IT projects are now trying to avoid use of gender markers unless strictly necessary.
  • Plans to extend the current rules allowing homophobically-motivated crimes to attract increased prison sentences to be extended to cover transphobia too.
  • Marriage is specifically mentioned, although until the equal marriage consultation is published this will unsurprisingly be vague.

Update on the “Schools Preaching Marriage” issue

I’d clarified my earlier post, but I’m still seeing links to it passed round as an example of “evil Tory scum”, presumably because the headline is most of what people are seeing. So, to clarify this wasn’t down to Gove. A posted on Liberal Conspiracy traced the clause back to the very first academy funding agreements, such as this 2001 example of the first academy to be set up in the UK. (Large PDF: 6.54MB – it appears at number 26)

Yes, it’s still not a good clause but attacking Gove and the Tories for something they didn’t do is not going to make them change it any quicker. (Quite the opposite, I suspect.)

Gove’s new Section 28: Free schools must preach marriage

Edited 1920GMT, 5th Dec: Please see this update to the post. The below is not correct when it blames Gove as it turns out the clause is also present in Labour’s version of the agreements from 2001.

With echos of Cameron’s “single parents cause the riots” speech from a few months ago, The Telegraph have noticed that there is a new Section 28 in the offing. (Section 28 was the now long-dead rule that prohibited Local Authorities from teaching about homosexuality. Neither Bisexuality nor Transexuality had, it seems, been invented back then: They didn’t try to ban them)

The offending document, a “model funding agreement“, is on the Department of Education web site and has allegedly been up there since 2nd September, but nobody had noticed until now. The clause really is numbered 28, and reads:

28. The Academy Trust shall have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State on sex and relationship education to ensure that children at the Academy are protected from inappropriate teaching materials and they learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and for bringing up children.

It doesn’t directly mention homosexuality, but given that marriage is still a strictly heterosexual affair, the wording requires that schools promote the monogamous man-and-wife, two point four children approach to life, ignoring that in the real world poly people exist and we’re quite capable of raising well-adjusted kids.

My kids have two step-mothers and a step-father (In stable relationships) and two half-siblings. The only people who get confused are the teachers: I don’t think their forms are big enough for all that information.

I don’t know how this agreement compares to the language used in rules for state schools, but the Telegraph story does have some basis in fact. At best, it’s an unintended interpretation of a poorly written clause with an unfortunate number. At worst… yes, this is why having Liberal Democrats as a moderating influence in government is a good idea. I foresee some not-very-moderate language being directed in Gove’s direciton in the next few days.