Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment A new Section 28?

A new Section 28?

Lisette Reed, print comment editor, discusses Section 28 and the effect new proposed government legislation could have on trans children.
2 mins read
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Image: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

New government legislation, aiming to “produce guidance for schools to know how to deal with children who are experiencing gender distress”, has been branded by many as the “new Section 28”, a law put in place in 1988 that prohibited the “promotion” of LGBTQ+ relationships in schools and libraries. The bill states that teachers must tell parents that their child is questioning their gender, regardless of whether the child consents to this. Moreover, it indicates that schools will not be able to use the child’s preferred name or pronouns until parents allow it. 

This legislation, if passed, would endanger the lives of trans children all throughout England as there’s a high potential that a child could be outed into an unsafe environment, where a family may not accept them. Regardless of how a family may appear to the school, the living situation for many children is wholly unknown and hence so are the views of the family. As well as this, if a child is to come out to a teacher, and only them, it is likely that they may not have the safety and acceptance at home. Therefore, telling the family their gender identity would go directly against the child’s wishes.

Regardless of how a family may appear to the school, the living situation for many children is completely unknown.

It is bills like these, which constantly undermine and erase the necessities of LGBTQ+ individuals and with studies finding that many trans individuals experience gender dysphoria at the age of seven, the argument that many conservatives take in that children can’t be trans because “they’re so young” is entirely useless and false. LGBTQ+ children are constantly belittled when they come out, with the phrase “it’s just a phase” regularly being used. It seems that the protection of children only applies when transness is a “threat”, as conservatives claim, not when a child identifies as trans.

It seems that the protection of children only applies when transness is a “threat”, as conservatives claim, not when a child identifies as trans themself.

Whilst the act would go directly against the child, it also collapses relationships between schools and students. For many LGBTQ+ children, schools are rarely a safe space, with bullying from other students and a lack of intervention and support from teachers. The most LGBTQ+ visibility many children receive in school is a singular Stonewall poster saying “Some people are gay. Get over it!”. Therefore, passing legislation such as this will cut all trust between teachers and their students. Although Section 28 was repealed in 2003, there was no legislation replacing it, requiring schools to teach LGBTQ+ education and until one is put in place, the reverberations of Section 28 will remain in place, allowing for legislation like this to be created. 

The entire premise of this act risks the safety of trans children, as well as the entire LGBTQ+ community- this constant erasure of queer identities, from government legislation, just shows for a fact that they will never actually care about the LGBTQ+ community living in the UK. They will attempt to wipe away LGBTQ+ identities in Britain as quickly as they change their rainbow flag logos on July 1st when Pride Month is over. 

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