A human rights activist has divided opinion after claiming that teachers should not tell parents if their children reveal to them that they are transgender.
Last week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said schools “have a duty to protect” children by telling their parents if they tell a teacher they are transgender.
Teacher and transgender activist Debbie Hayton, 54, appeared on Good Morning Britain alongside human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, 70, to discuss the issue today.
Debbie said that while personal information should always be disclosed in a controlled and respectful manner, teachers should not “keep secrets” from their students’ parents.
However, Peter said children have the same right to privacy as adults and telling parents they are transgender could put children at risk of “emotional and psychological bullying”.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell, 70, believes children have the same right to privacy as adults and that sharing personal information will lead to a breakdown of trust between pupils and teachers
He said: “The number one priority is what is in the interests and welfare of the child, which must come first.”
“Having said that, children have a right to privacy like everyone else and if we have a situation where teachers are spies and snitches it will break trust. Students will not feel comfortable divulging things to teachers.
The activist said disclosing that a child is transgender could put them at risk from parents who could force them to change their gender identity.
“That could of course endanger some trans kids,” he said. “If parents are told without consulting the child, there are parents who are very hostile to having a trans child and we know that some trans children are emotionally and psychologically bullied to prevent them from being trans.
Viewers were split on the issue – with several saying parents should be informed so they can support their children, others believe a child should be able to come out when they are ready
“Obviously it would be ideal for the parents to be informed, but the teachers should consult the child, what the child wants. [Consider] would it be safe to tell parents that if the child is happy with it, perhaps the best thing to do is to have the child present when the issue is discussed with the teacher. This is probably the best approach, but no approach is perfect.
Debbie agreed the best way to tell parents is with ‘controlled disclosure’, saying that ‘if we keep secrets’ schools could risk ‘uncontrolled disclosure’ later.
“My opinion as a teacher is that schools should share details of important events in children’s lives, schools should share that with parents,” she said.
“That’s how we operate with everything else, it’s standard practice throughout the school. If a child reveals something to you, my basic training as a teacher is to make sure the child is honest with the parent before reporting it to the school using normal procedures.
She explained that teachers should not talk to parents about personal issues in an uncontrolled way, such as over the phone, but should be informed so that ‘parents and schools can work together to support the child’.
However, Peter believes that children have the same right to privacy as adults and that sharing personal information will lead to a breakdown of trust between students and teachers.
Teacher and transgender activist Debbie Hayton, 54, appeared on Good Morning Britain where she claimed schools have a ‘responsibility’ to tell parents if a child comes out as transgender
Viewers were divided on the issue – with many saying parents should be informed so they can support their children, others felt a child should be able to come out when they are ready.
“Of course, parents should be told if a child tells a teacher they think they are trans or non-binary,” one viewer wrote.
“Unless the family has a history of child protection issues, it’s far too important to hide from the parents!”
Another agreed: “Of course teachers should tell parents if their child thinks they are trans. Children need support and advice, teachers need to guard the door and not keep it secret”.
Meanwhile others disagreed with one writing: ‘It’s not their duty at all, it gets the trans student in trouble with other students whose parents have a different view trans people. teachers should not tell anyone that their job is to protect.
“It seems like a lot of people think they know better than parents of trans kids, even though they seem to say they’re glad their child was able to talk to them when THEY were ready, not when a teacher told them. did for them #gmb’, said another viewer.