NSPCC whistleblower quits charity over trans grooming row

Julia Marshall said she was told to ask primary school-age children their pronouns when she delivered assemblies and workshops
Julia Marshall said she was told to ask primary school-age children their pronouns when she delivered assemblies and workshops - EDDIE MULHOLLAND

An NSPCC whistleblower has quit the charity after claiming it risked “grooming” children with aggressive trans ideology.

Julia Marshall, who had volunteered with the organisation for more than 30 years, warned that it had been “completely captured” by the hardline Stonewall campaign group.

The 62-year-old claimed that she and other school volunteers were told to ask primary school-age children their pronouns when they delivered assemblies and workshops.

She says that they were also put under pressure to affirm children’s choices of gender, even where it had nothing to do with protecting them against physical and sexual abuse, which is the NSPCC’s founding purpose.

A former police officer and mother of three, Ms Marshall got in touch with The Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast to make her story public.

She claims she was ostracised for speaking out against the apparent shift in direction.

Major red flag

“It was a major red flag,” she said. “I thought how can you not see that this is a safeguarding risk?”

It comes amid a gathering backlash against gender ideology, including the publication of the Cass review this month, which found that the evidence for allowing children to change gender was built on “shaky foundations”.

Last week, the NHS in Scotland also followed England in suspending the routine subscription of puberty-blocking drugs to children.

Stonewall, which has vociferously campaigned for children to be allowed to change gender, has now been distanced by the Government, BBC and numerous other organisations with whom it had formal collaborations.

Ms Marshall had been fundraising for the NSPCC since the early 1990s, but in 2012 she became a regular school visitor helping to deliver the “Speak Out, Stay Safe” message, aimed at empowering children to recognise and report instances of abuse.

“I really felt like we were doing a good job, giving children the courage to look out for themselves and each other.

“On quite a few occasions we got told that children had come forward to report abuse after our workshops. That gave me great satisfaction.”

Her concerns were first raised in 2019 when she noticed that her supervisor in Hertfordshire had begun including her pronouns, “she/her”, in emails. “I had a long conversation with her about it,” Ms Marshall said. “She said we’ve been told that it’s important to show inclusivity.”

Workshops were suspended during the pandemic.

In the summer of 2022, volunteers were asked to undertake refresher training before going back into schools.

Very different organisation

Ms Marshall and around 15 others attended a classroom on a university campus in Welwyn Garden City, where she found “a very different NSPCC to the one I’d known”.

“They had a whole session on pronouns and transgender children,” she said.

“I was astounded because we were talking about primary school children under 11.

“I said ‘What on earth is going on?’ I really did feel like I was an alien.

“Everyone was like ‘No this is a thing, this is happening, it’s normal’.

“I said ‘How can you not see as a charity that this is a safeguarding risk?’.

“The reaction was ‘Well you’re weird’.”

Ms Marshall’s account follows a number of scandals at the charity around gender and related issues.

Last year, Childline, which comes under the NSPCC umbrella, was accused of allowing the trans lobby to “hijack” its advice website in order to promote potentially dangerous treatments behind parents’ backs.

Messages posted by third parties in chatrooms hosted by the charity advised girls as young as 14 to bind their breasts and take hormone blockers.

The Charity Commission confirmed to The Telegraph last week that it opened a compliance case against the NSPCC following allegations.

NSPCC staff were also wrongly told during training sessions that “most people” do not regard themselves as completely straight or completely gay.

Following the 2022 training session, Ms Marshall said she tried to debate the issue with her regional and local supervisors but was “blanked”.

“At that stage, I hadn’t seen what [trans advice] was on their website, but then I looked and thought they’d really lost the plot.

“I thought I can’t work for this charity any more. It’s been completely captured by Stonewall.”

Ms Marshall sent a lengthy email to senior NSPCC figures highlighting what she saw as dangerous advice to children on the charity’s website, but says she never received a reply.

Speaking of the recent Cass review, she said: “There it is in black and white. Everything I said when I resigned is backed up in the report. It should be a major wake-up call.”

Wake-up call

This month, Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, announced he was stepping down.

An NSPCC spokesman said the organisation had no formal partnership with Stonewall, but did engage with the campaign group, “to hear from communities that are often under-represented”.

“At the NSPCC, we pride ourselves on being a safe space for children and young people – whether that’s supporting them when disclosing abuse or providing a listening ear for any concerns,” he said.

“In order to fully support children, we must create a non-judgemental space that allows them to feel comfortable and protected – something which is covered within our training. Something simple, like using a child’s preferred pronouns, is one way in which a young person can feel listened to and respected.

“We would like to thank Julia for the years she spent volunteering with the charity, inevitably changing the lives of the young people she supported.”

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “In May 2023 we opened a compliance case into the NSPCC to explore its management of the Childline message boards.

“After engaging with the charity, which commissioned an independent safeguarding team to review the message boards, we were satisfied the NSPCC had implemented the recommendations from this report.

“The case was closed in September 2023.”