The prime minister is expected to hold back the transgender guidance as the attorney-general and government lawyers concluded that such a move would be “unlawful”, as reported by The Times.
The draft guidance stated that “children should be allowed to socially transition with the consent of their parents” but the government commissioned legal advice from Victoria Prentis, the attorney-general, about whether a ban on social transitioning in schools was possible.
After this, Prentis came to the decision that this would be unlawful and stated that the government would need to pass new legislation if it wanted to go further.
A survey from last year by the British Social Attitudes (BSA) showed 39% of people were opposed to the potential change, whereas those in support of the change has dropped from 53% to 32% in just two years.
The survey also showed that 33% feel transgender rights have gone too far, with 32% stating they have not gone far enough.
The Times has been told that it is unlikely that Sunak will publish the guidance by the end of the week. Sunak is also concerned about the “long-term implications” of allowing children to socially transition.
A government source said:
“We have consistently said that this is about protecting children, empowering parents, and supporting teachers and school leaders by providing guidance for them to implement. It’s a complex and sensitive area and it’s right we get it right. More information is needed about the long-term implications of allowing a child to act as though they are the opposite sex and the impact that may have on other children too.”
In the same article, a Whitehall source said that No 10 and Kemi Badenoch had put forward a serious of proposals to strengthen the guidance – for example, a “blanket ban on social transitioning” and including greater protection for free speech in the guidance, stating that teachers must not be “compelled” to address children by their chosen pronoun if they had a “good faith” objection.
Badenoch also stated that doctors must be consulted before allowing children to socially transition as part of a “clinical gateway”. Prentis said that if the government wanted to go further on transgender guidance for schools it would need to “consider putting it on a statutory footing”.
A Whitehall source told The Times:
“The government wants to go further but the problem is that this is guidance. It is coming up against the Equalities Act which is the law. If the government wants to go further, it has to change the law.”
A spokeswoman for the attorney-general’s office said:
“By longstanding convention, reflected in the ministerial code, whether the law officers have been asked to provide legal advice and the content of any advice is not disclosed outside government without their explicit consent. That consent is rarely given.”