A Catholic all-girls school in London has said children should use the “preferred pronoun” of pupils who do not identify as female.
Marian Doyle, headteacher at Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith, a secondary school, wrote to parents that “as a Catholic school” they must “promote greater wholeness for transgender individuals”.
This would include “using the young person’s preferred pronoun and addressing them as them with their preferred name, recognising their intent to live as the person they believe God created them to be, and refraining from any judgement.”
The letter says that the Equality Act 2010 requires schools to help “eliminate discrimination”, and that guidance from the Department for Education places “gender reassignment” within this duty.
One parent of a girl at the school, who did not wish to be named, said: “If the letter the headteacher sent out materialises as policy and practices, it will be very confusing for the young people at the school. I see it as a very dangerous letter.”
In a statement, Doyle said: “Every child at our school is made in the image of God and is nurtured and supported to know who they are and how best to make use of their talents. We are proud of them all.
“Our community not only has a duty to uphold and maintain its charism but also to operate within the law, and as a Catholic school we must look to ensure we respond to different situations for young people, whatever they may be, with compassion, dignity and respect. In this, we seek the guidance of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels to support us in our response.”
Doyle said the letter was “part of a lengthy process of consultation within and beyond the school”.
The letter comes as schools face increasing pressure to comply with the government’s “British values” programme. Earlier this year a Jewish school was failed by Ofsted for refusing to teach about homosexuality. Last month, a Christian couple on the Isle of Wight said they were considering legal action after their son was disciplined for “misgendering” a fellow pupil.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Education Service has issued guidelines on homophobic bullying, which include large amounts of text copied from publications by LGBT rights organisations. The guidelines have been criticised by Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth.