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Under fire, NHS removes controversial gender question for 10-year-olds

UK, school children, 10 years old, uniform
Former children's minister Loughton says forcing children to question their gender identity so early on can be 'deeply destabilising'. Source: Shutterstock

UK Year Six students were recently asked: “Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female)”.

The annual National Health Service (NHS) survey also asked the 10-year-olds to tick a box that confirmed their gender, with an option for “other” as well as “boy” and “girl”.

However, the question was removed from the survey in less than 24 hours from its publication following heavy criticism from parents and Members of Parliament (MPs).

Lyndsey Simpson, a parent whose child received the survey this week, told The Telegraph:

“I don’t want someone putting into my daughter’s head that she might not be happy with her own gender.”

Tim Loughton, the children’s minister between 2010 and 2012, labelled the survey “deeply worrying”.

He continued: “Forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilising.” Current Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill has yet to provide a statement on the survey.

The survey had been sent out to schools in Lancashire, in northwest England, under the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust. They worked closely with local charity Lancashire LGBT to provide a questionnaire that would help teachers “understand and support” children who are struggling with their own identity.

The charity also works closely with schools in the area in order to help children “increase their knowledge of LGBT+ issues”.

The annual NHS survey asks 10-year-olds to tick a box that confirmed their gender, with an option for ‘other’ as well as ‘boy’ and ‘girl’. Source: Shutterstock

Official figures have shown that four times as many children are now being referred to gender identity clinics. In Tavistock, London, it has been reported that 135 children under the age of 10 were seen in these clinics last year, compared to only 36 in 2012.

The Lancashire County Council has since commented on the removal of the question: “We agree that more consultation is needed before deciding whether to include questions about gender and other sensitive health issues in this assessment.”

In its print issue, The Daily Telegraph titled the story as “‘Trans’ survey for 10-year olds”, which has also received backlash from LGBT news organisation PinkNews. The media outlet also associated the newspaper’s stance on the issue to a law passed during Margaret Thatcher’s government. Section 28, as it was called, banned all mention of homosexuality in schools between 1988 and 2004.

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