Boarding schools allow trans pupils to sleep in dorms of their preferred gender

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, is understood to be concerned by some school policies
Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, is understood to be concerned by some school policies - Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Boarding schools are allowing trans pupils to stay in dorms of their preferred gender, according to published policies seen by The Telegraph.

Co-educational schools, including Taunton School in Somerset and Bedales in Hampshire, have told pupils that transgender pupils could be allowed to stay in accommodation according to their chosen gender.

The schools’ policies clash with the Government’s first-ever guidance for trans pupils, which states that pupils must sleep in dorms segregated by their biological sex.

Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, who published the draft guidance last month, is understood to be concerned by the policies.

A source close to her said: “Ministers have been clear that single-sex spaces must be protected and this has been reflected in the Government’s draft guidance on gender-questioning pupils, which is currently out for consultation.”

At Taunton School, which charges boarders £13,870 a term, an equality, diversity and inclusion policy adopted for the current academic year stated that “as far as possible, transgender pupils and students should be able to sleep in dorms appropriate to their gender identity”. It is understood that the policy is under review.

At Bedales, the £14,185-a-term Hampshire school that counts the actor Daniel Day-Lewis and singer Lily Allen as alumni, boarders are accommodated in houses “according to the gender with which they identify”, according to a policy on the school’s website.

Taunton School charges boarders £13,870 a term
Taunton School charges boarders £13,870 a term - Mark Passmore/apexnewspix

At Christ’s Hospital in West Sussex, a 2020 policy on pupil diversity and inclusion stated that the school “will give careful consideration to a pupil’s request” to “be housed in accommodation that is different to their biological gender”.

However, a spokeswoman for the school said current pupils are not allowed to sleep in dormitories of the opposite sex.

She said: “Christ’s Hospital is respectful of students who may be questioning their gender, and balance this with our duty of care and safeguarding responsibilities.

“No student who is questioning their gender is allowed to share sleeping or changing facilities with others of the opposite biological sex to them.

“While, like all schools, we will be reviewing our policies following the recent publication of the Government’s draft guidance, nothing we do currently is outside that guidance.”

Parents will be shocked to learn of some of the published policies for gender-questioning children at the expensive schools, Conservative MPs said on Sunday.

Dr Caroline Johnson, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, said she has received a complaint from one of her Lincolnshire constituents about a trans girl in a boarding house with female pupils at a school.

She said: “Adolescent boys should not have access to spaces where girls undress or sleep, and vice versa. Most parents and teenagers would be in agreement with that.”

Bedales is a £14,185-a-term Hampshire school that counts the actor Daniel Day-Lewis and singer Lily Allen as alumni
Bedales is a £14,185-a-term Hampshire school that counts the actor Daniel Day-Lewis and singer Lily Allen as alumni - Paul Doyle/Alamy

Miriam Cates, the Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge said: “Parents who spend an awful lot of money sending their child to some of the best schools in the country are expecting a top-notch education and pastoral care, and would probably be horrified at some of the gender ideology in these schools.”

The Government’s draft guidance states that “no child should be allowed to share a room with a child of the opposite sex”.

If a child questioning their gender does not wish to share a room with another child of the same sex, alternative arrangements should be sought where possible but only after the school has considered its safeguarding obligations, the guidance adds.

Schools have struggled to respond to a rise in the number of children confused about their gender.

Top private schools have installed gender-inclusive toilets, warned staff that they must address pupils by their preferred pronouns and introduced gender-neutral uniforms, The Telegraph has found.

At Sevenoaks School in Kent, its policy for transgender, gender fluid and non-binary pupils states that “using correct terminology and language is crucial”.

Any staff member or pupil who accidentally uses the incorrect name or pronouns are expected to “apologise and take steps to ensure it is not repeated”.

The Government’s proposed new guidance states that in secondary schools, teachers can refuse requests by children to change their pronouns. Teachers and pupils will not face sanctions for not using a child’s preferred pronoun, unless they are found to have been bullying a trans student.

Parents should be ‘on the ball’

James Esses, co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists, a group of psychotherapists concerned about the impact of gender identity ideology on children, said: “Parents have to be on the ball here in terms of asking schools who they are receiving their training from and what the specific modules they are teaching.

“You cannot tell from outside of a school, no matter what its facilities are, or how expensive it is, whether they are pushing this ideology within their four walls.”

In a statement, Sevenoaks School said: “We welcome government guidance which is in line with our principles of supporting individual students whilst working in close partnership with parents.

“The underlying principle of this policy is to respect and protect all members of our school community. It is currently under review as part of our annual policy review cycle. Our policies are regularly reviewed to ensure they adhere to government requirements and best support our students and staff.”

Taunton and Bedales declined to comment.

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