“I had no idea what the whole ‘gender identity’ thing was,” says the mother of a transgender teenager whose daughter now identifies as a boy.
“She was demanding a new name, new pronouns. And I was saying, ‘slow down, what’s going on?’
“I didn’t know what a pronoun was. I was that naive.”
The mother, who lives in West Sussex, believes her child’s gender dysphoria was influenced by sex education lessons in school.
After her daughter came out as trans during the pandemic, when her younger son started at a new school in the local area, she asked to see the relationships and sex education materials.
She found they were teaching about gender identity using a diagram of the “Gender Unicorn”, showing sliding scales of male, female and other identities, alongside spectrums of gender expression and sex assigned at birth.
“When I saw those materials, I thought, if it’s here in a small little school, it’s everywhere.”
Review of sex education materials
Last week, Rishi Sunak ordered an urgent review of sex education in schools following an investigation by The Telegraph which found that some schools were teaching children there are 100 genders, while at some primary schools, children are being taught about masturbation.
Almost 50 Tory MPs wrote to the Prime Minister, urging him to intervene.
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, warned that children are being taught sex education lessons which have “no basis in any reputable scientific biological explanation”.
The mother saw a “dramatic change” in the personality of her then 15-year-old daughter, who now identifies as a boy.
“She was depressed, dealing with body issues, her spots were coming out,” she tells the Telegraph. “She was a 15-year-old and being trans seemed to be the answer to everything.
“It was anorexia when I was at school and this is the new version of it,” she added. “She’s looking in the mirror and she’s seeing someone who is a boy. When I was looking in the mirror at school, girls were seeing someone who is fat.”
School was 'wishy washy'
When the mother approached her daughter’s school, she says they were “wishy washy”.
“I couldn’t go and see them. They said, ‘we are doing the best to support your child’.
“But I didn’t know what this support was. I thought that was not a long term solution to her happiness - calling her a boy. To me, this was the anorexia mindset.”
Her daughter was a premature baby who she says struggled to make friends, but was “very intelligent, witty, studious”.
“I can see now with hindsight that she’s on the autistic spectrum. We didn’t push it. She was on the normal spectrum of human development. But little did I know that they tell your children in school that your gender identity doesn’t match your sex when you’re born.”
Social workers then got involved and told the mother that “we need to do what’s best to support my daughter”.
“The social workers were making me start to question my own upbringing and the way my parents treated me,” she recalls.
“[They would say] ‘Get your elbows off the table. Sit up straight.’ And that was when I thought, I’ve got to step away from this.”
'My daughter brick-walled me'
By this point her daughter was over the age of 16. “The social workers made out she was making a lifestyle choice. It undermined my ability to parent, my confidence as a parent.”
She adds: “My daughter brick-walled me. I was a transphobic figure, no discussion.”
They are now estranged.
She believes her elder daughter was introduced to radical gender ideology at a different local school prior to the pandemic. She believes this sowed a grain of doubt in her daughter’s mind about her gender which was made worse when she spent time watching a YouTube trans influencer.
The mother says she met with her local MP, Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, in December, to urge her to remove such materials from classrooms.
“I left the materials with her and gave the story of how I’m now estranged from my daughter,” she says. “She was listening very patiently, a lovely personable lady.
“I said, ‘I want this taken out of lessons’.” The mother says she was told that parents “need to have access to materials, and take it up with schools to get it changed”.
“But this is too big for parents,” she says.
“It’s too late for me. It’s the other kids now that are taught these lessons in Year 7 and 8 - just at the time when girls are going through their body issues and they’re changing and suddenly teachers are telling them that their sex might not be the sex they are supposed to be.
“It just pulls the ground from under them. Especially for kids on the SEN [special educational needs] register.”
Age limits to be considered
The Government’s review will consider whether age limits need to be added to the guidance, which was last redrafted in 2019 in consultation with the LGBT+ charity Stonewall.
The guidance did not put a ceiling on what could be taught, but specified that “gender identity” should be taught in schools.
It opened the door for external providers and activist groups to provide sex education resources in schools.
A source close to the Education Secretary told The Telegraph: “The Secretary of State has been clear the content reportedly being shown to children is totally unacceptable.
“In response, she has brought forward a review to swiftly address any use of inappropriate materials and teaching in schools.”
Mrs Keegan has said that schools “should ensure they’re making content available to parents if requested”. The Department for Education says that “copyright law does not prevent a parent from viewing external resources on school premises”.
However, parents and MPs have said schools should be forced to go further, and publish all materials in advance of lessons to prepare parents for what is being taught.
'Materials should be from DfE'
A school governor in Brighton told The Telegraph that a local primary school is “teaching eight year olds that there are 100 genders as fact”.
She said: “As a governor I have seen posters in classrooms promoting transgender ideology to young primary school children. These materials should be provided in standardised format from the DfE with strict guidance on what should and should not be taught and these materials should be publicly available.”
A mother of a four-year-old at a different school says that her child’s primary school recently held an “LGBT+ week for our four year old’s class”.
She says that her son has since “unprompted said that he is my daughter and that girls are better than boys”.
“Also, very angrily, [he said] that he can be whatever he wants to be. It all feels like he is being fed propaganda.”
Parents left in the dark over lesson materials
However, the major concern for many parents is that they still do not know what is being taught in sex education lessons.
Some do not have time to interrogate their child’s schools.
“It seems as if their entire life has been taken over by sex, gender, identification,” says the mother of a teenage girl. “A large majority are really struggling mentally and it’s not surprising, when you add all the other changes and pressures of being 15 or 16 years old…
“The major concern is that these mixed and confused messages are largely politically motivated and unchecked. They are being delivered through the schools and outside the control or knowledge of the parents.”
Another parent tells The Telegraph of lessons at her 15-year-old daughter’s school “where they are forced to discuss gender identity, question traditional genders, and even accept that men have periods”.
She adds: “I’ve never seen or heard of so many confused or messed up kids. Two of her peers were previously girls, now both identify as boys, one is bi-polar and non-binary, another gender fluid and one gender neutral. At least three girls are lesbian and a large number of the boys gay.
“Most haven’t got a clue what they are.”