Nigel and Sally Rowe, Christian parents of two young boys, decided to pull their boys out of a local elementary school run by the Church of England after the school allowed a boy to attend school dressed as a girl. The Rowes said their boys were traumatized by the transgender child, and announced that they would sue the school for ignoring the rights of non-transgender kids and their parents.
When the oldest son was 6 years old, a boy in his class started coming to school as a girl, the Rowes explained in a video published by Christian Concern. The presence of a transgender child “was making him unwell and stressed and so we made the decision to withdraw him from school at the age of seven,” Sally Rowe explained. After a year of homeschooling, “he has flourished and blossomed and been happy and well.”
That was last year. This year, their youngest son is 6, and he too was disturbed because “a boy in his class is now coming to school sometimes as a girl and sometimes as a boy, as when the child decides,” Nigel Rowe said.
“When our son told us about what happened in school, we were shocked, because we had no consultation about this, we were not aware of it, so the first thing we decided to do was to actually go into school and just talk with the teacher,” the mother added. She recalled the school’s response, “They kind of said, ‘If a child wants to do that, we just have to accept it, and if we don’t accept it, I could lose my job.'”
The father added, “We feel that it’s not right to push this on children, to make out that there is no gender, because there’s clearly a difference between boys and girls. I think if you ask most parents who have a son and a daughter, they’ll say that there’s a great difference between them in character, in traits of being male and female.”
Nigel Rowe admitted that “we would be labeled as transphobic and all the other ‘-phobic’ rhetoric that you hear but actually that’s simply not the case. We see that there needs to be a different way of addressing this.”
The Times reported that the “genderqueer” boy was invited to the Rowes’ younger son’s sixth birthday party in April; the party had a royal theme. Most boys dressed as knights, but he wore a blue velvet dress. Sally Rowe, who with her husband has played an active role in the school, said she had good relations with the dress-wearing boy’s mother.
“The school environment is not the right place to be addressing this,” the father argued.
Sally Rowe built on that position. “Our concern is that if it is in the school forum, there is the danger of bullying, there’s also the issue of toilets.”
The mother argued that there are “lots of issues that need to be thought about,” and that parents need to be consulted, “so that it is treated and done in the correct way, in a good way that is going to be for the benefit of all the children concerned, not just the transgender child.”
The school, which is on the Isle of Wight, responded to the Rowes’ complaint by pointing to its policies against “transphobia.” According to The Times, the school’s official policies explicitly guard against “transphobic behavior” such as “an inability to believe a transgender person was a ‘real’ female or male; refusing to use the person’s adopted name, or using ‘gender inappropriate pronouns’; and feelings of discomfort and an inability to trust or connect with someone based on their transgender status.”
Unless The Times has wildly misreported the school’s policies, this elementary school — run by the Church of England — is attempting to control the mental attitudes and gut emotions of its employees, forcing their entire character into a pro-transgender mold.
Justifying these policies, the school pointed to Church of England guidance, saying that transgender children were protected under the Equality Act of 2010. It further noted the East Sussex county council’s guidance that transgender children are not to be seen as a problem, but “as an opportunity to enrich the school community and to challenge gender stereotypes and norms on a wider scale.”
“Our schools are inclusive, safe spaces where pupils learn to respect diversity of all kinds,” a Diocese of Portsmouth spokesman said. “We comply with the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and believe that all should feel welcomes, valued and nurtured as part of a learning community.”
The Times predicted that lawyers for the couple will argue the school is wrong to apply the Equality Act in this way because legal recognition of gender reassignment applies only to people over the age of 18. The Rowes might also argue that the school is discriminating against them by implying that their wish to bring up their sons with biblical beliefs is transphobic.
The Christian Legal Centre, part of Christian Concern, will represent the Rowes in court, and religious discrimination lawyer Paul Diamond is expected to represent them.
“This new transgender ideology s being aggressively imposed on unsuspecting schools, parents and children,” Andrea Williams, the Christian Legal Centre’s chief executive, said in a statement. “It is delusional and abusive. School classrooms, which should be one of the safest environments for children, are rapidly becoming dangerous battlefields in a war brought on by a radical transgender ideology.”
“Vulnerable children are being used as pawns and will be harmed the most,” Williams declared. “We need to call it what it is.”
Recent events in London, Australia, and the United States have illustrated the tension between transgenderism in schools on the one hand and religious freedom and parental rights on the other.
In June, two Jewish schools in London faced closure over transgender issues. In July, the speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, John Bercow, said that same-sex marriage won’t be “proper” until churches can’t opt out of hosting a same-sex wedding on their premises.
As Australia considers legalizing same-sex marriage, conservative groups have released ads warning that state-sanctioned transgenderism in schools will follow, and many have already struggled with the “Safe Schools” curriculum, which teaches transgenderism in the name of combatting bullying.
After a legal challenge, the Boy Scouts of America agreed to admit biological girls in January. In June, a biological male won two state championships in girls track and field in Connecticut, while parents were horrified to see a drag queen perform at a talent show for a Manhattan elementary school. Last month, a California private school got sued for refusing to follow the transgender line.
Kindergarteners in a California charter school were “traumatized” by a gender reveal party. A Minnesota K-12 school adopted a policy of not even notifying parents that their kids will learn about transgenderism. Minnesota even adopted a policy of “segregating” children concerned about sharing a bathroom with transgender peers.
One of the richest and most influential — and least reputable — nonprofit organizations in the U.S., the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has been pushing this issue, educating teachers on how to make transgenderism a key part of the curriculum and policies in the classroom.
Britain is different from America in crucial ways. The Church of England is an established church, so it has a closer relationship with the government — and therefore has less religious freedom than American churches. Even so, the global LGBT movement has proven itself relentless, and it seems parents will not have the right to protect their children from facing transgender issues at a very young age, inside or outside the United Kingdom.