This was the headline in a news article I read yesterday, about new Church of England's guidance for nursery and primary schools. As a mum from a Christian background, and with Christian beliefs, the words just don't sit right with me. They're talking about nursery and primary school age children!
Addressing an issue
As I dove into the story, and after some additional reading of other articles and viewpoints, I have a better understanding of the context behind this a bit more. Church of England says it's to help counter transphobic bullying and allow children the freedom to discover "the possibilities of who they might be". That premise I can support because I hate bullying of any kind and will morph into a mama bear if i see it happening to my kids or anyone. I consider myself to be fairly liberal and certainly wouldn't not freak out if I saw my daughter playing with a fireman's truck, or my son with a fairy wand. My daughter hates pink and loves blue, so what? I don't see why I or anyone else should try to change her mind about this, or panic that this might be indicative of something else. I was a proper tomboy growing up, liked playing rough games, climbing trees, had more friends who were boys than girls and fought constantly with my mum about me wearing dresses (because I didn't like them). So I think I did explore the "trying on" stage of life. My support however, stops there.
Perhaps I'm being too simplistic and only referring to surface issues with the examples I gave. At no point during my exploring did I think I might be a boy, and this was made easier by the fact that no one encouraged me to explore my thoughts on that issue. I understand there are children who genuinely go through inner conflicts on the gender issue. I've read many articles that suggest that the suicide rate in the transgender community is high and getting higher still, and for those affected there are many complex issues. These are very sensitive issues that as a society we have to find a way to work through.
I have nothing against anyone in that community, I love you as I love everyone else, mean you no harm and will fight for you if you're being unfairly treated, but I don't agree with that lifestyle, and it is not for me. I believe there are lies if not checked become easier to accept and adopt as truth. I'm with Genesis 1:27 - "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them". This tells me that when God created humankind he created each with body parts and thought processes that categorise/label you as one or the other, male or female, not both. Verse 31 tells me "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good", not sometimes, not "oops I made a mistake with this one, so it's okay to swap from one to the other when you feel like it".
Opening the door?
Back to the issue, should we leave the door open for a nursery or primary school children to decide if they are male or female? Church of England is this what you are saying? If people aren't legally allowed to make decisions like drinking alcohol, drive a car, vote or have sex until a certain age, why do you think it's okay for a child to decide a fundamental, life changing decision such as their gender? You can't trust a 6 year old to remember to brush his/her teeth before going to bed, yet you want to trust them with knowing that even though born one gender they are actually another?
What if they change their minds in a few years or when they become adults? This is a very scary and dangerous door you're opening. The slippery slope is steep. Where do you draw the line with "discovering possibilities", "trying out the many cloaks of identity" without losing what you should stand for - the word of God? What's the point of having a Church of England school which should be upholding and teaching morals and principles based on the bible, if you're going to water down and dilute those same principles to accommodate everyone. What about more focus on teaching children to love themselves just as they are because we are all uniquely created? What about the confusion such guidance gives rise to for other children who otherwise are not "confused" about their gender? Why be a Church of England school? What does that even mean anymore?
I don't see why I should be told off and punished for calling a girl a girl because she decided she wants to be called a boy as in the case of Joshua Sutcliffe Oxford teacher faces action over 'misgendering' pupil. Granted this is a secondary school case, but that scary door is definitely open.
If my child expresses feelings of confusion about their identity, do me a favour and counter it with biblical truth, and reinforcement of how special and unique they are, just as they are, not molly-cuddling and talk of "it's okay to be gender neutral if you want". If they decided to be a thief would you entertain that line of thinking? No, I didn't think so.
What are your thoughts on this issue?