The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that President of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) Caroline Jordan was promoting trans-inclusive guidance to single-sex schools. The teachers were urged not to use gender-defining words referring to pupils collectively.
The guidance urges teachers to avoid using language such as “young ladies” to collectively refer to pupils. Ms Jordan said: “In assemblies, instead of saying ‘Girls, go to lessons’, staff should consider saying ‘Pupils, go to lessons’ or ‘Students, go to lessons’. That is something our schools are thinking about and some are already doing. I feel that every year there are more and more young people posing questions around their gender identity. I do not want anyone to think that girls’ or boys’ schools are invested in one way of being a girl or one way of being a boy. My view is that where you can use gender-neutral language about people that is a good thing.”
In a response to the press coverage, the GSA defended its stance. A statement said: “You may have read recent press coverage (see links below) about how GSA schools are helping transgender pupils in their schools. This transpired following our annual Summer Briefing for Heads, during which we share the latest expert advice, legal guidelines and good practice on a wide range of issues. Although some of the coverage oversimplifies what is a complex pastoral issue, we are pleased to see that the fact that our schools enable all pupils to learn in an accepting, comfortable environment has attracted attention. The crux of the matter is that schools have a duty of care to all pupils, including those who decide to transition. Language is one part of this complex pastoral issue and GSA schools, which have a long history of excellence in pastoral care, are at the forefront of showing best practice in including transgender pupils. For the avoidance of doubt, we believe that using certain terminology – such as ‘pupils’ or ‘students’ rather than ‘girls’ – is appropriate in certain circumstances, and particularly when transgender pupils are present. It is up to individual schools to interpret and apply this advice when appropriate.”