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Campaigners given permission for legal challenge over guidance from council on transgender issues in schools

The High Court has granted a campaign group permission for a judicial review challenge over Oxfordshire County Council’s guidance on transgender issues in schools.

Safe Schools Alliance UK has argued that the county’s Trans Inclusion Toolkit for Schools 2019 is unlawful.

It said that if the case - being taken by an unnamed 13-year-old girl - succeeded “other toolkits and resources that have similar elements, and are supported by Allsorts, Stonewall and others are likely to also be unlawful”.

It filed the judicial review application in January on the basis that the toolkit was “seriously flawed and poses a risk to children”.

The claimant said then: “The toolkit has a very significant impact on me as a girl. I am very surprised that the council never asked the opinion of girls in Oxfordshire about what we thought before they published the toolkit.

“Under these guidelines I have no right to privacy from the opposite sex in changing rooms, loos or on residential trips. Sports could end up being unsafe as I am a really small teenage girl and boys are bigger than girls. This guidance could be used in any educational establishment in Oxfordshire, which possibly includes sports clubs.”  

A crowdfunding page set up in support of the judicial review has so far raised £22,471 towards a £40,000 target.

An Oxfordshire County Council statement said: “We are aware of the challenges faced by young people who feel they are not the gender they were assigned at birth. We also know that schools and other organisations are working hard to support these young people.

“While we acknowledge this is a difficult and emotive area, we are confident the revised toolkit will provide helpful guidance to schools looking to support this potentially vulnerable group of young people. We utterly refute the suggestion that we are failing to safeguard children.”

It said the council had worked with national experts to prepare the toolkit, which had been unanimously approved by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.

Mark Smulian

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