HELEN JOYCE explains why she had to complain to her son's school
Gender critical author HELEN JOYCE accuses her son’s prestigious sixth form of risking safety by allows trans pupils to use girls’ toilets and play for female teams
- Government regulations say that schools must avoid indoctrination
- Helen Joyce claims how her son’s sixth form college in Cambridge fell short
- READ MORE: Sex attacker transitions before trial and is sent to a women’s prison
I had already decided to complain to my son’s school before his first lesson.
Over the summer, as he was preparing to transfer to Hills Road sixth-form college in Cambridge, a friend pointed me to the ‘transgender policy’ on the school’s website.
It was full of breaches of government regulations and equality law. Worst of all, it drove a coach and horses through child safeguarding.
I knew other parents with children at the school who, unlike my son, suffered from gender-related distress and confusion. Those parents were convinced that the trans inclusion policy, far from helping their children, would make it harder to sort out their issues.
They feared that any complaint to the school would put a target on their children’s back. Or that the children would side with the school, and learn to see their parents as enemies.
Helen Joyce (pictured) explains how her son’s sixth form college in Cambridge fell short on transgender ideology and its safeguarding procedures
I’ve written a book about the problems caused by transgender ideology right across society, especially in schools. I understand the law on sex and gender. I’m not afraid of being labelled a troublemaker: transactivists call me worse. I decided I was in a good position to act.
I drafted a polite email to the head teacher, Jo Trump, setting out the policy’s flaws. I explained that other parents agreed with me, but had to remain anonymous for the sake of their children. I offered to talk through the issues in person. With luck the school would take our concerns on board without further harming vulnerable families.
‘Students feel completely safe in college’
A spokesperson for Hills Road told MailOnline: A parent contacted us to raise her concerns with the College’s transgender policy that has been in place since 2018. Amongst a series of points she raised with the policy, she suggested that it could raise safeguarding issues in single sex spaces. In reply the Principal was able to confirm that we have never had any incident or concern of a safeguarding nature raised in relation to our transgender policy nor any concerns raised by any students about feeling unsafe in single sex spaces. Nonetheless, the Principal undertook to conduct a thorough review of the policy and the accompanying Equality Impact Assessment by sending it to the College’s lawyers for their expert input to ensure that the policy was legally compliant.
On return, the lawyers’ updates and revisions were all accepted into the now-revised policy and student voice work was conducted at College about the policy to understand if there were students who felt the way that the parent alleged they did. We have yet to hear from any student who has told us that they feel unsafe in any space in our College for any reason. That is how it should be. Hills Road Sixth Form College is an open, welcoming community as was recognised in the outstanding Ofsted report of February 2022.
Specifically in that report, inspectors found ‘Students feel completely safe in college. They know whom to talk to if they are concerned about themselves or others, and they feel empowered to do so. Students trust their tutors and well-being staff. They are confident that any referrals they make would be treated seriously and respectfully. Leaders, governors and staff take safeguarding extremely seriously. Leaders have ensured that safeguarding arrangements for students are extremely well resourced and well managed.’
The College continues to increase its provision of private cubicle changing and toilet spaces and will continue to ensure that student safety remains its top priority. Student voice is key to understanding students’ thoughts, needs and concerns and the College will continue to listen.
I sent the email at the beginning of term. In it, I pointed out that allowing trans-identified pupils to use facilities matching their claimed gender identity breached Government regulations requiring single-sex toilets and changing-rooms in schools. That the policy discriminated against girls, who need single-sex facilities more than boys do, and against pupils from religions that mandate separation of the sexes in private situations.
I moved on to sports. The policy said that trans-identified pupils could be included in events and teams for the sex they identified as. That meant boys who identified as girls playing and competing against girls.
This is sex discrimination too. If they’re forced to compete against peers who were built by male puberty to be bigger, faster and stronger, girls lose out.
Then I tackled the school’s description of ‘misgendering’ – that is, referring to trans-identified people by the pronouns that match their sex – as harassment or bullying. That, I explained, was yet more discrimination, this time on grounds of ‘religion or belief’.
The central tenet of trans ideology – that people are the sex they say they are, never mind their biology – is a bizarre recent invention of academic gender theorists. Hardly anyone else believes it. Making us all pretend we do is like forcing atheists to say that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour, or barring Christians from bearing witness to their faith.
And finally, I laid out the risks. Schools are meant to be places where children’s safety comes first. Safeguarding procedures are intended to avoid catastrophic errors, and to reduce predators’ room for manoeuvre. Examples include DBS checks, risk assessments and information-sharing protocols.
It’s obvious that allowing some boys to count as girls, and vice versa, makes a mockery of safeguarding procedures. And yet there in the policy, in black and white, was the assertion that pupils who claim to feel like the opposite sex have the right to act as if those feelings change reality.
The head teacher’s reply was superficial and dismissive. No one else had complained, she said. (Well, someone’s got to be the first.) The school knew of no negative consequences from the policy. (What if pupils hate it, but are afraid of being called ‘transphobic’?)
The policy was already under review for unrelated reasons, she added. But she gave no indication of how long that review would take, and no sign that she understood the issues.
When she brushed off a follow-up email with a two-line response, we realised there was no point playing nice. Our next letter was a formal complaint to the governing body. We restated all our original concerns – and added another. We had raised serious safeguarding issues, we pointed out, and the head teacher had ignored them.
Another three weeks’ wait; another brush-off. So we appealed. That was rejected too.
Nearly an entire term of back-and-forth emails, and we had got precisely nowhere.
Shortly after the start of spring term, we received an email from Ms Trump out of the blue. Our feedback, and legal advice the school had received, had led to changes in the policy, she said. But the changes turned out to be trivial, and failed to address any of the serious issues we had raised.
Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge allowed trans-identified pupils to use facilities matching their claimed gender identity, which is a breach of Government regulations
Helen Joyce took the role of spokesperson for a group of concerned parents and tackled the headteacher and school governors head on about their concerns over safeguarding
Our only remaining official option is to write to the Department for Education or Ofsted. Somehow, we don’t think they’ll listen either.
I admit to being disappointed. I can understand a teacher or school governor skim-reading a policy and agreeing that ‘trans girls’ belong in the girls’ changing rooms – until it’s pointed out that ‘trans girls’ are boys who say they are girls.
I had hoped that the governors had been bamboozled by ideological language, and might see how dangerous and unethical the policy was when it was restated in clearer terms.
In plain English, it allows any boy who claims to be a girl to use the girls’ toilets and changing-rooms, and vice versa. This means – and it makes me feel like screaming to have to spell this out – that these facilities are all mixed-sex, no matter what it says on the door.
And yet the governors denied this. Their final response repeated, once again, that Hills Road still has single-sex toilets. ‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.’ Today’s version of this quote from George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 is ‘boys are girls, if that’s what they claim to be’.
Helen’s book Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality
But although I was disappointed, I wasn’t surprised. Hills Road is hardly the only school going down this path. So are others all over Britain.
Urged on by lobby groups like Stonewall, Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence and the Kite Trust, many schools are abandoning the concept of biological sex entirely. In its place they have enshrined self-declared gender identity – not just when it comes to facilities and school rules, but when it comes to lessons.
Many children are being taught that humans don’t come in two fixed types, male and female. They’re told that sex is an arbitrary, irrelevant label ‘assigned at birth’ by medical professionals. That all that matters is your stated ‘gender identity’: boy or girl, non-binary or gender-fluid, or a host of other made-up labels. Your gender identity is ‘how you feel about yourself inside’.
This is presented as ‘progressive’ and ‘inclusive’. In my view, it’s the most sexist rubbish I’ve heard in my life.
How can anyone know what it ‘feels like’ to be a member of the other sex? All children have to guide them is regressive stereotypes. Suddenly, a child who likes football, model trains and sports kit is ‘really a boy’, no matter what’s on their birth certificate. One who likes ballet, dolls and fashion is ‘really a girl’.
Lessons that tell children to define themselves according to sex stereotypes are part and parcel of the same ideology that demands ‘preferred pronouns’ and tells pupils to use single-sex facilities for whichever sex they ‘identify as’.
The spread of this ideology is a big part of the reason why so many children now identify as ‘trans’. The lucky ones will grow out of it. But some will take dangerous measures they can never reverse.
Girls may bind their breasts to make them look more like boys when they are dressed. This can damage delicate tissues and deform their ribs and spines. The really unlucky ones may end up on puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones. These irreversible treatments can cause sexual dysfunction and sterility in adulthood.
Government regulations say that schools must avoid indoctrination or teaching only one side of a heated political issue. It’s hard to imagine anything that better fits that description than teaching children that if you think sex is real, you’re backward and a bigot.
It’s as if we handed over geography lessons to flat-earthers. Worse, actually, because the lies our children are being taught aren’t just about the world around them. They’re about a fundamental aspect of being human: our sex.
It all adds up to a full-blown crisis. Schools are indoctrinating our children, alienating them from their parents and putting them at risk.
Some parents I know recently received an email from their 13-year-old daughter’s school. It said that at the child’s request her registration details were being amended to give her a boy’s name and record her sex as male. The email was merely for information; the parents’ opinions were not even solicited.
When the parents kept pushing, a staff member let slip that a tenth of the children at that school are recorded as trans or non-binary.
A decade ago trans-identified children were so rare that most people had never met or even heard of one. But relentless indoctrination in schools and on social media has created a social contagion.
How has the UK become a country where this can happen? Why do some school leaders and teachers think it’s their right to promote this ideology? Why are they failing in their ethical and legal duty to teach the truth and avoid putting children in harm’s way?
And why does the government let this continue?
As my experience of complaining to Hills Road shows, parents who want to challenge activist schools and teachers are in a very weak position.
If you ask what your child is being taught in relationships and sex education, or diversity and inclusion, the school may refuse to answer. Many use materials provided by transactivist groups that cite ‘commercial confidentiality’ as a reason not to let parents see lesson plans. The government says this is bad practice, but hasn’t cracked down.
Helen said: ‘The main lesson I have learned is that some teachers and school leaders think it’s their right to promote whatever faddish theory they choose’
If you dare to tell your child’s school that trans ideology is dangerous nonsense, you are likely to find that it couldn’t care less what parents think. The main lesson I have learned is that some teachers and school leaders think it’s their right to promote whatever faddish theory they choose.
The only person with the power to rein in activist teachers is the education secretary. Yet Gillian Keegan, who took over the job in October, seems completely out of her depth. In December she was questioned on indoctrination into trans ideology by the education select committee. She rambled, said there needed to be ‘debate’ and insisted that ‘most teachers’ are doing their best.
In a profile in the Sunday Times earlier this month she further demonstrated her cluelessness. Her department is supposed to be writing guidance on trans issues for schools, but it wouldn’t need to ‘define what a girl is’, she said. How can girls have private spaces if no one is willing to be clear about who’s a girl?
So, for all that my own complaint hit a brick wall, I urge other parents to do the same. Ask if your child’s school has a ‘trans inclusion policy’. Demand to see what it is teaching about sex and gender identity. If you’re rebuffed, complain and complain again.
Don’t allow the government to continue to claim this is a marginal issue. Don’t let a head teacher say no one has complained. Don’t let Keegan think she can get away with waffling while children’s safety and future health are at risk.
If the cowards in the Department for Education aren’t willing to crack down on this preposterous ideology, it’s going to take parent power. If no one else stands up for our children, we’ll do it ourselves.
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