Two Christian parents are urging the Church of England to change its guidance for the more than 4,700 primary schools that allow children as young as five to identify as transgender.
Nigel and Sally Rowe wrote an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury calling the institution to revise its "Valuing All God's Children" guidance because it mandates children as young as five years old must be affirmed by its schools if they wish to identify as the opposite sex.
"Basic Christian teaching is that we are all created male or female and that the differences between the sexes are beautiful, designed and complementary, and should be respected in society," the parents wrote. "We are all created male and female."
The couple's six-year-old son was labeled as exhibiting "transphobic behavior" by the school because he was distressed and upset after being told that he must refer to his friends according to their adopted gender using their preferred pronouns.
The Rowes withdrew their son from the school and asked the Department for Education to provide clear guidance as to how schools should handle pupils who wish to identify as the opposite sex. Currently, U.K. law prohibits citizens from legally changing their gender until the age of 18.
"We were also concerned for the harmful effects on the children who were allowed to socially transition, as well as the effects on all the other children in the school," the Rowes wrote in the letter.
The family presented an extensive study to the Department for Education showing that "trans-affirming policies can have 'catastrophic outcomes' for gender-confused children."
Initially, the department refused to look at the evidence, but when the Rowes decided to take their case for judicial review, the school changed its policy.
In August, former Attorney General Suella Braverman gave a speech about how the guidelines would change.
"The problem is that many schools and teachers believe – incorrectly – that they are under an absolute legal obligation to treat children who are gender questioning according to their preference, in all ways and all respects, from preferred pronouns to use of facilities and competing in sports," she said. "All this is sometimes taking place without informing their parents or taking into account the impact on other children. Anyone who questions such an approach is accused of transphobia. In my view, this approach is not supported by the law."
The Rowes were awarded more than $23,900 in legal costs and a commitment from the British government to reform trans-affirming policies in schools.
Now their sights are set on the Church of England.
In the letter, the Rowes point out that the "Valuing All God's Children" guidance is not supported by the law and needs to be revised.
"It is plain that the Valuing All God's Children entirely fails to address the important steps that are required in order to safeguard children as outlined by the Attorney-General," they said. "It is clear that Valuing All God's Children should be scrapped."
"We are sure that you will agree that the safety and well-being of all God's children taught in Church of England schools is a matter of the highest importance," the parents added.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented the Rowes in past litigation, believes the Church of England's current stance is harmful.
"The Church of England, who have over one million children under their care, backed the approach of the school in the Rowes' case. 'Valuing All God's Children' must now be scrapped in light of this outcome and the overwhelming evidence that the Church is supporting harm."
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