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| December 12, 2018

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Debates rise over report at Brighton school revealing highest number of trans pupils

Debates rise over report at Brighton school revealing highest number of trans pupils
Louisa Streeting

Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton has been reported as having the highest number of openly transgender and gender fluid pupils in the country. Reports of the Brighton school’s figures in The Times has stirred up opposing views debating the “long-term effects” and “regrets” of gender transitioning at a young age.

Dorothy Stringer’s equality information report has revealed 40 children aged 11 to 16 “do not identify as [the] gender presented at birth”. 36 children in the same school also identify as gender fluid, meaning the gender they describe themselves as is not fixed all the time.

It has been revealed the number of people under 18 who have visited over the past year has risen by 25% to 2,519, which is around 50 young people a week. A growing conversation surrounding gender in the wider community has caused increased cultural awareness in transgender and gender non-conforming discussions.

Richard Bradford, Headteacher of Dorothy Stringer School, released the following statement: “We create a safe and secure environment for all our students to ensure they achieve to the best of their abilities and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

“As part of this, we work carefully and sensitively with our trans students and their families. We are very proud of the equalities and inclusion work we do in school – we are proud of our diverse community and we work hard to support the needs of every child.

“When we support the students who do present as trans, we listen to them and their parents and carers and wherever possible follow their lead.”

Trans Awareness Flag © torbakhopper

 

Mr Bradford claims the figures released in the national media “do not reflect the number of openly trans children we have in school which is much lower than the data given in the survey might suggest”.

He further suggests the discrepancy in the figures may indicate how difficult it is for trans students to come forward in schools, making the support they give when transgender students to come forward even more important.

Speaking to Brighton Journal about Dorothy Stringer’s equality report, Dr Samuel Hall from The Clare Project, said: “Brighton is well known for its LGBT inclusivity so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that this effect has trickled down via inclusive policies and good training into our schools and colleges. Pupils at [Dorothy Stringer] clearly feel free to express themselves and this is a good thing.”

Mr Hall added it’s important to understand the number of children revealing gender fluidity or identifying as trans in an anonymous school survey may not be the same as the number who are openly trans or living out a different gender identity to that which they were assigned at birth.

The article in The Times debates whether this sharp rise in pupils identifying as transgender and gender fluid may be down to the influence of activists, vloggers, and community groups.

The Times states: “impressionable young people, largely girls, are told by upbeat, pretty folk slightly older than themselves how transitioning can be an escape route from uncertainty, autism, friendlessness, abuse, the pains of puberty, or homosexuality. Being a young lesbian is less cool.”

Allsorts Youth Project in Brighton came under fire in the mainstream media through a lack of supporting research to statistics on their website. The charity, who received a total of £19,902 from Brighton & Hove Pride last year, runs vital support for young people, their parents and carers, and in schools, including their position as a key partner in the consultation for the Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit in the city since 2014. 

They also launched the first ever group for “trans or gender-questioning” children aged 5 to 11 in the United Kingdom. Allsorts run one-to-one and group sessions, drop-ins, and a vast amount of information to members of the LGBTQ+ community and their relatives. Brighton Journal has approached Allsorts for comment.

Dorothy Stringer School is located in Withdean, Brighton, with over 1,600 pupils and 115 members of staff.

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