Nurseries which care for babies and toddlers told that children can come out at any age


Scottish nurseries caring for babies and toddlers have been told children can “come out” as transgender at “any age” after pre-schools adopted SNP guidelines.

Ministers are under increasing pressure to scrap the Scottish Government rules, which are intended to be applicable to primary schools but make no mention of nurseries.

It comes after the landmark Cass Review, led by paediatric consultant Dr Hilary Cass, recommended that children who think they are transgender are not rushed into treatment, with those in primary school who say they want to change gender being given early help.

The Scottish Tories have led calls for her findings to be implemented in Scotland, where gender services are influenced by American guidelines set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) that back an “affirming” approach.

The SNP guidelines call on staff to “be affirming” and to ask for a child’s new name and pronouns in cases where they say they identify as a member of the opposite sex. Glasgow council admitted that its nurseries and early years centres were “signposted” to the controversial national guidelines, in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, seen by The Telegraph.

They were issued in 2021 and drawn up with the help of activist groups such as LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall, which has previously claimed children as young as two can “recognise their trans identity”.

‘Gender friendly nursery’ initiative

Many Glasgow nurseries care for children aged from babies to five years, while others take in toddlers aged from two or three years. It follows a separate “gender friendly nursery” initiative which was run in the city, in which it was claimed very young children faced unwelcome pressure to “conform to binary gender definitions”.

It was stated that many people had “difficulty in accepting the range of gender identities that exist” and that nurseries should be a “safe space” in which children can “explore their identity” without “pressure to conform”.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher MSP said: “Parents will understandably be alarmed at this response from Glasgow City Council.

“While it’s important that all trans people get the support they need, pre-school kids are far too young to understand complex issues about their gender, when their minds and bodies are nowhere near fully developed.

“Parents want age-appropriate guidance to be provided to their children and – however good the intentions behind this are – this ‘signposting’ is not suitable for toddlers.”

In training materials for the “gender friendly nursery” initiative, which by 2019 involved 35 Glasgow nurseries and last year was being considered for a national rollout, staff caring for very young children were informed that gender was a “fluid, cultural concept”.

‘High heels were worn by horsemen’

Training cited the example of high heeled shoes now being associated with women, but said in ancient Persia “high heels were worn by horsemen to help them secure their position in the stirrups allowing them to shoot their arrows”.

It also said that gender associations of pink and blue was a “relatively new thing” as pink was once “a shade of military red” and blue was seen as a colour for girls “as it was the colour of the Virgin Mary’s clothes”.

LGBT Youth Scotland, which also runs a controversial charter scheme which critics say pushes unscientific trans ideology in schools, was involved in the nurseries project despite stating that its remit is to support 13 to 25-year-olds.

The Scottish Government schools guidance, adopted by Glasgow nurseries, endorses social transition meaning to change names, pronouns and physical appearance.

The 71-page document says: “Transgender young people may recognise and discuss their gender identity at any age. Before puberty, any transition or change is limited to socially changing their name, pronoun and gender expression.”

It adds that the onset of puberty can “often confirm feelings of ‘gender dysphoria’” which could be “very distressing” and lead to self-harm. It advises that referrals to the Sandyford Centre, Scotland’s only gender identity clinic for children, can be made “before puberty”.

Nine-year-olds prescribed puberty blockers

Children as young as nine have been prescribed puberty blockers after being seen at the clinic, branded the “Tartan Tavistock”, though new prescriptions have been suspended in light of Dr Cass’s findings.

The Cass Review also called for caution, particularly for young children, in social transition, warning that the approach could make it more likely that children ended up on a harmful and potentially unnecessary medical pathway.

Jenny Gilruth, the SNP education secretary, has said that she will “consider” whether the schools guidelines need to be updated in light of the Cass Review.

However, the rules published under Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure as first minister currently remain in force and Ms Gilruth has offered no firm commitment to changing them.

The guidelines state that the views of young people should be respected if they do not want their parents to be informed about social transition.

The document goes on to endorse breast binders, claiming they can have a “positive impact on a young person’s mental health”, despite documented health risks.

Nine nurseries have gender friendly status

In the FOI response, Glasgow council said that in cases where a child “is presenting as a different gender” in nurseries it asked that “wishes of the family and child are supported wherever possible”.

Asked what guidance was followed by nurseries and early years centres in such cases, the authority said: “We can confirm that establishments are signposted to the Scottish Government’s publication ‘Supporting transgender young people in schools: guidance for Scottish schools’.”

Nine of Glasgow council’s 110 nurseries have obtained “gender friendly nursery” status, which the authority said meant staff had been trained on “harmful impacts of gender stereotyping”.

A spokesman added: “The most important part of this learning is about instilling confidence and rights from a young age to expect equality and challenge discrimination of any kind.

“Staff in our schools and nurseries are supported in a variety of ways and this includes signposting to national advice – but that does not detract from every situation being dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

”All our schools and nurseries value and respect the needs and rights of every child.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.