On Tuesday, September 26th, His Grace delivered a speech to the Brighton & Hove branch of the Free Speech Union, accompanied by the co-founders of PSHEbrighton, entitled “All protected characteristics are equal, but some protected characteristics are more equal than others” a paraphrase of a quote from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. The purpose of the speech was to introduce a support group for parents and allies who have concerns regarding the implementation of Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education, as well as Relationships & Sex Education, in Brighton & Hove schools.
Drawing upon his extensive experience and profound understanding as a trustee of local charities, His Grace eloquently delineated the challenges associated with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). He shed light on the intricacies of its interpretation and implementation by officials at the Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC), particularly in relation to the directive of “advancing equality” as mandated by the PSED. This duty encompasses the protection of nine fundamental characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. In summary, those subject to the equality duty must, in the exercise of their functions, have due regard to the need to:
- Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.
- Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
- Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
However, the interpretation of the equality duty has been excessively broad, leading to its misapplication to the extent that BHCC officers perceive it as their responsibility to advocate for ideological concepts, rather than solely prevent and address instances of discrimination. In conjunction with the concept of intersectionality, this has led council officers to unilaterally assess and prioritize protected characteristics, sometimes favoring certain characteristics over others, which ultimately undermines the concept and the legal protections that are mandated by the Equality Act. As a result, the implementation of PSHE and RSE in local schools has been impacted, with BHCC officers including ideological concepts such as Critical Race Theory, Identity politics, and Transgenderism in their instructional guidance.
The lack of professionalism was particularly noticeable in the Trans Toolkit for schools, which was created by the All Sorts Youth Project, a local LGBT charity, and a BHCC employed consultant for PSHE/RSE implementation. This Toolkit was widely distributed with ideological claims but without proper professional citations and has since its first edition, been widely copied and employed by other local education authorities, winning acclaim from LGBT lobbyists like Stonewall. His Grace had the opportunity to provide feedback on the fourth edition of this Toolkit in 2020 (see Trans Toolkit feedback). He expressed his concerns, substantiating them with extensive footnotes from pedagogical academically peer-reviewed sources. These sources highlighted the discrepancies between the guidance provided in the Toolkit and the principles outlined in the Equality Act 2010 as well as the consensus among academic and medical professionals.
During his address, His Grace discussed the recent update to the Technical Guidance for Schools by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which now aligns with the Equality Act 2010. The revised guidance aims to eliminate any ambiguity and provides a clear definition of the protected characteristic of Gender Reassignment, which safeguards individuals who have legally altered their gender identity. It has become evident that transgender activists have caused confusion by misrepresenting the application of protected characteristics to children. It is crucial to differentiate between ideology and the law, acknowledging that the Equality Act does not impose ideological rules. Terms such as gender identity, gender affirmation, and preferred pronouns do not fall under the purview of the Act. The well-being of children must always take precedence, and it is inappropriate to apply protected characteristics to children as if they were adults.
PSHEbrighton is currently providing professional assistance to parents in Brighton & Hove whose children have been affected by the current social phenomenon of transitioning and navigating the entrenched ideology within BHCC services. A parent anonymously addressed the meeting to share their case involving a pupil who is receiving support from both the school and social services, despite the objections raised by the parents to transition, including the prescription of puberty blockers and a fundraising campaign for a surgical intervention. This case unequivocally demonstrates the unwavering commitment of these professionals to their principles, regardless of the existing legal framework. Furthermore, recent inquiries made by PSHEbrighton members to the Council have uncovered the steadfast dedication of local politicians to these ideologies, as their responses contradict the growing awareness among professionals and wider society regarding the harmful impact of these ideologies on children.
The individuals expressed their genuine gratitude for the insightful knowledge shared by the presenters and were deeply troubled upon discovering the magnitude of the issue affecting the city. PSHEbrighton is actively striving to unite parents and allies, with the aim of tackling these concerns and advocating for the prioritization of “safeguarding first” as the primary principle in addressing the Trans phenomenon in educational institutions. His Grace remains optimistic that the group will provide not just moral and emotional backing, but also valuable guidance to those impacted.
For more information about PSHEbrighton, visit the website www.pshebrighton.uk