I have been left concerned by some of the material that is being promoted in our schools over the past few months. I believe strongly that all teaching relating to sex education and gender identity should be age appropriate. It should also have parental consent and not promote controversial, contested, and often radical gender theories as fact.
A number of parents have raised concerns with me over the past year or so but often lacking any real evidence making it hard for me to pursue. The Government is currently in the process of developing clear statutory guidance for schools on these issues. It is critical that this is published as soon as possible to make it abundantly clear to schools what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
A few weeks ago, it was brought to my attention on social media that an example of radical gender theory called the “Genderbread person” was being promoted at Northgate High School. A document promoting this concept with the School’s logo and contact details at the bottom was shared on social media. The social media account that shared this document and a related video promoting the school’s “LGBTQ+ LANGUAGE TOOLKIT” had a big following, so unsurprisingly a number of media outlets picked up on the issue including the Daily Express. I expressed my concern on social media about what I saw.
I then received an email from the Headteacher at the school expressing frustration that I commented upon the issue without knowing “the full picture” and meeting with her to discuss my concerns. Very shortly after this, the Headteacher emailed parents implying that I had refused to meet with her and that I didn’t have “the full picture”. It also mentioned that the Daily Express were aware of the issue.
In a separate statement to the media, she claimed that the “Genderbread person” concept was only ever communicated to teachers. According to the BBC, “The school said the resource has only ever formed part of a staff tool kit on language, which has not been used since October 2022 and has never been used as a teaching resource.” Both the BBC and the Ipswich Star published this statement without question and didn’t come to me for a response.
My initial thoughts in response to this statement from the Headteacher was confusion. What would be the point in communicating all of these controversial theories to the teachers if the expectation wasn’t for the teaching staff to then communicate these ideas to the pupils?
However, there was then a very significant development. I was contacted by a parent of two children at the school. That day his daughter had gone on the school intranet and gained access to all of the material under discussion. Far from being taken down, discontinued or only being accessible to teaching staff, the “Genderbread person” and other associated material was fully accessible and available to pupils. I was sent a video of the pupil in question logging on and accessing the material on the intranet.
In many respects, this makes me even more concerned than if it was being used and promoted in the classroom. At least then a responsible adult would be present to hopefully provide some balance. As it is, a radical gender theory is there on the intranet, accessible to pupils, and from what I can see, promoted as fact, not even just a contested theory.
I’m concerned that there is such a discrepancy between what the Headteacher claims and the apparent reality of the situation. I understand that the Daily Express emailed the Headteacher about this discrepancy but didn’t receive a response. I look forward to getting a full explanation when I meet with her over the coming weeks. How can she credibly claim that the “Genderbread person” was never used as a “teaching resource” when all pupils appear to be able to get easy access to it?
Interestingly the Labour candidate for Ipswich decided to wade into the debate criticising me for raising concerns about controversial gender ideology being promoted in the school before knowing the full facts and gaining “the full picture”. Largely on the back of the inaccurate and unbalanced story in the Ipswich Star I imagine. If ever there was a case to keep your powder dry this was it.
I do not believe that controversial debates around gender identity should be promoted in primary schools at all and I don’t think that controversial concepts like the “Genderbread person” have any place in schools whatsoever. If a pupil is struggling with their own gender identity, then of course I want them to be supported. However, I think there are potentially dangerous and damaging consequences for our young people when radical and controversial gender theories such as the “Genderbread person” are promoted in schools. I also think it’s right that parents have full oversight of what their children are being taught in schools when it comes to these sorts of issues, many seem to be totally in the dark. Something I can’t understand from this experience, is that I clearly haven’t been able to secure a proper response from the school in question, about what is actually promoted to children within the school.
The “Genderbread person” model in question states: “Gender is one of those things everyone thinks they understand but most people don’t. Gender isn’t binary. It’s not either/ or. In many cases it’s both/ and. A bit of this, a dash of that.” This essentially states that gender identity is something purely in your head and that biology has no role to play at all. It also states that gender isn’t “binary”, meaning that you can be a mixture. These are pretty out there ideas that I personally disagree with. However, the idea that they aren’t just promoted, but promoted as fact with no counter balance I find deeply disturbing.
The concept also promotes regressive gender stereotypes which I also think have no place in our schools. For example, under “Gender identity” it has a “Woman-ness” category and a “Man-ness” category and with each associated “roles”, “jobs” and “hobbies”. I thought we were trying to break down the view that there are roles and jobs for men and roles and jobs for women? The bizarre way in which this concept is promoted leaves me thinking that you’d be told you are 5% male for liking football but 10% women for wanting to be a nurse? I’d be fascinated for the creator of the “Genderbread person” to outline to me what roles and hobbies are associated with “man-ness” and “woman-ness”.
My concern is that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the theories being promoted in our schools, which is why last week I wrote to the Education Secretary and the Equalities Minister requesting that the statutory guidance for schools be urgently published to ensure this sort of stuff is nipped in the bud.
I’m sorry it has come to this. On the whole, Northgate is a good school, and it saddens me that it has attracted national media attention for the wrong reasons. I want stability for the school and the pupils at it, but I will always act if I believe potentially harmful content is being promoted to young people in Ipswich that is not age appropriate. In this case, I felt like I had no alternative but to speak out.
I will be meeting the Headteacher soon to discuss my concerns and a way forward. I am also making myself available to meet with all parents that have concerns.