I don’t call girls ‘girls’ to avoid offending trans people, campaigner tells headteachers

A former Government advisor says she never says “girls” in an all-girls school because there may be transgender people in the room.

Natasha Devon made the comments to headteachers at a Girls’ School Association meeting, stating that schools should avoid “heteronormative assumption”.

However, earlier this year, an education specialist warned that promoting transsexualism in schools is leading to deep confusion.


Devon, who advised the Department for Education on mental health issues in 2015/16, also claimed calling school children ‘girls’ was patronising.

“I don’t think it is useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it”, she said.

Claiming ‘gendered language’ can “have a whole heap of invisible expectation” on all pupils, she said removing it would benefit everyone.


In later media comments she also claimed the terms ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ have “oppressive connotations and negative stereotypes that can cause children anxiety”.

Last year, guidance issued by the Boarding Schools’ Association instructed teachers to address transsexual pupils as ‘zie’, ‘zir’ and ‘zem’.

And in September, a schools guide said it would rate institutions on how ‘trans-friendly’ they are.

Sowing confusion

Dr Joanna Williams, an author and lecturer at the University of Kent, has warned: “We are increasingly reminded that schools are struggling financially.

“Yet the time, effort and money that goes into producing and monitoring Transgender Policies is out of all proportion to the tiny number of trans children currently in British schools.”

She added: “Children – encouraged by their experiences at school – are beginning to question their gender identity at ever younger ages.

“In doing more than just supporting transgender children, and instead sowing confusion about gender identity, schools do neither boys nor girls any favours”.

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