Diocese of Portsmouth defends decision over transgender pupil after parents pull child from school

Sally and Nigel Rowe have pulled their child from school after a row over a transgender pupil (Photo from the BBC)
Sally and Nigel Rowe have pulled their child from school after a row over a transgender pupil (Photo from the BBC)
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The Diocese of Portsmouth has defended its decision to allow a child in one of its schools to dress as either a boy or girl after it faced criticism from parents of another child.

Christian couple Nigel and Sally Rowe removed their six-year-old son from a Church of England school on the Isle of Wight due to the other pupil's request to be accepted as transgender.

The duo believe that the Diocese should have consulted parents about the pupil and are seeking a legal challenge against the establishment's actions.

Mr Rowe told the BBC: 'Our child came home from one day saying he was confused as there was a boy in his class which is sometimes coming in as a boy and sometimes coming as a girl.

'We have a social understanding that we have boys and we have girls. There's a distinct difference between male and female, not just in what you wear but also within our DNA, the way that we are as boys and the way that we are as girls.

'We feel that there's a political agenda that's driving and pushing this.

'Remember we're talking children that are six years of age. A six-years-old is not really able to, does not have the mental capacity to work out those kind of things. It's such a young age and we are concerned about that.'

The couple stated that when they approached the school, which is not being identified, they were told 'if a child wants to do that then we just have to accept it.'

They added that the suggestion that gender is fluid conflict with their Christian beliefs.

In response to the criticism, Jeff Williams, director of education for the Diocese said it would be 'unlawful' for the school not to accept the wishes of the child with regard to gender identity.

He said: 'Church of England schools are inclusive environments where pupils learn to respect diversity of all kinds. Like any other state school, our schools comply with the legal requirements of the Equalities Act 2010.

'Among other things, this requires schools to accept the wishes of children and their families with regard to gender identity. It would be unlawful for any of our schools to do otherwise.

'Because our schools have a Christian ethos, we also believe that children of all faiths and those with none should all feel equally welcomed, valued and nurtured as children of God within our learning communities.'