Children in Scotland as young as four years old are now able to change their names and genders at schools without requiring parental consent, The Telegraph reported.
A 70-page document issued on Thursday states that under new LGBTQ+ inclusivity guidelines created by the Scottish government, teachers are now urged not to question their students if they indicate a wish to transition genders. Instead, teachers are urged to ask for the students’ new names and pronouns.
Along with these guidelines, schools have been told that transgender students should use whatever bathroom or locker room they prefer. The creation of more gender-neutral uniforms and inclusion of transgender characters in lessons and reading materials are being developed.
John Swinney, the deputy first minister, said in a statement in July that Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive nations in Europe.
“I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTI inclusive education embedded within the curriculum,” he said last month.
The guidelines state that there is no age requirement for “coming out,” and the views and requests of the young people should be respected—even if the students do not want their parents to be informed.
“A transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity,” the official document states. “Inadvertent disclosure could cause needless stress for the young person or could put them at risk and breach legal requirements. Therefore, it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights.”
Advocacy groups have shared their support for the latest guidance, saying that the new policies would help students “thrive.” Others, however, see the changes as a “dangerous ideology” that schools are pushing on students.
“This is really, really worrying,” said Marion Calder, co-director of the For Women Scotland campaign group. “The bottom line is that this is a dangerous ideology that the Scottish Government is pushing.
“It used to be commonly understood that children should be able to play and experiment with gender roles, with clothing, their likes and dislikes,” she continued. “Those children are now being encouraged on to a medical pathway, potentially for the rest of their lives.”
But Shirley-Anne Somerville, Scotland’s education secretary, affirmed that the document is not attempting to “promote” transitioning, but merely to provide a student with adequate space and safety to do so if they choose.
“We know transgender young people can face many issues in schools and that teachers and staff must have the confidence and skills to support their mental, physical and emotional health,” she said, according to The Telegraph. “This guidance outlines how schools can support transgender young people while ensuring that the rights of all pupils are fully respected. It provides schools with practical suggestions.”
Newsweek reached out to Stonewall, a U.K.-based organization supporting LGBTQ+ rights, for commenton.