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Stonewall is making thousands of pounds by enrolling schools on to a programme of transgender guidance
Embattled diversity charity Stonewall is making hundreds of thousands of pounds by enrolling schools on to a programme of transgender guidance that critics have branded ‘dangerous’.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of primaries, secondaries and colleges – both state and private – have paid up to £1,000 each to join the charity’s School & College Champion scheme.
As well as applying for awards to recognise their gay, lesbian and transgender ‘inclusion work’, schools can buy online training courses, further swelling the charity’s coffers. But opponents claim some of the material used is inaccurate and even unlawful.
The row comes as Stonewall faces an exodus from its controversial Diversity Champion scheme for employers amid claims it imposes trans ideology at the expense of free speech.
The charity says its programme of awards for schools helps ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans students feel ‘valued, respected and represented’. One booklet advises teachers not to reveal a pupil’s ‘transgender identity’ to anyone outside the school – including their parents – unless the child gives permission. Another says: ‘Under the Equality Act, a trans child can use the toilets and changing rooms that match their gender’.
One of the schools which is a member of the controversial scheme is St Paul’s (pictured), a prestigious private school in London
It also advises that on school trips, pupils should be allowed to sleep in the accommodation of whichever gender ‘they feel most comfortable in’ and that children can take part in sports alongside other pupils that match their ‘gender identity’. Another publication encourages teachers to avoid ‘gendered language’ such as ‘boys and girls’.
Members of the scheme include the 500-year-old St Paul’s, a prestigious private school in London, Thomas’s London Day School, whose prep school is attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte and schools in some of Britain’s most deprived areas.
Legal experts and campaigners last night criticised the material. Naomi Cunningham, a barrister specialising in discrimination law, said: ‘The advice being given to schools by Stonewall is dangerous and unlawful. There is legislation that requires schools to provide separate toilets for girls and boys. So if a school allows a boy who identifies as female to use the girls’ toilets, it is in breach of the law.’
Thomas’s London Day School, whose prep school is attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte is also a member of the scheme
She said the Equality Act allows some sports lessons to be segregated on the basis of gender, and that Stonewall’s advice on school trips and keeping transgender identities a secret from parents were ‘huge safeguarding red flags’.
Some parents are also dismayed by the cost to cash-strapped schools.
Writing on Mumsnet, one mother claimed her daughter’s school had a shortage of toilet paper, yet had found funds to join the Stonewall initiative. ‘Isn’t this hideous?’ she wrote. ‘£1,700 to Stonewall’s Diversity Champion scheme and no loo roll.’
Another parent said her school was paying £660 to be a Stonewall champion then urged to buy more training ‘that probably runs into hundreds of pounds’.
Acknowledging the financial pressures facing schools, Stonewall suggests a ‘bit of creative thinking might be needed’ to pay for their ‘LGBT-inclusive work’ and recommends fundraising events such as bake sales.
Questions have been raised over the charity’s Diversity Champions scheme since The Mail on Sunday revealed last month that the Equality and Human Rights Commission was quitting the programme. Further employers including Channel 4 have since followed suit.
Naomi Cunningham (pictured), a barrister specialising in discrimination law, said: ‘The advice being given to schools by Stonewall is dangerous and unlawful’
According to Stonewall’s 2019 financial statement, it took £3.27 million income from its Diversity Champions, School & College Champions and Global Founding Partners programmes.
Stonewall said its work was ‘vital to ensuring that all young people grow up understanding that LGBTQ+ people are part of everyday life, and that there’s nothing shameful about being lesbian, gay, bi, trans or queer’.
It said it was confident the advice it gave schools was ‘robust’ and based on strong legal foundations, adding that it ‘helps create inclusive and safe environments for everyone’.