Isle of Wight parents to sue over boy wearing dress to school

Parents of a six year old boy on the Isle of Wight say they will legally challenge an Isle of Wight Church of England school for allowing boys to wear dresses to school. “There are boys and there are girls” said the father, Nigel Rowe.

school dress

An Isle of Wight couple made the front page of the Sunday Times yesterday, as they threaten to legally challenge an Isle of Wight school Church of England primary school for allowing a six year old boy to wear a dress to school.

Nigel and Sally Rowe made most of the national newspapers and also appeared on BBCR4’s Today programme this morning (Monday), speaking about their concerns.

Parents: “We found this concerning”
They told the BBC presenter their concerns were raised when their son came home from school saying “I’m confused, I don’t know what’s going on,” after a boy was allowed to wear a dress to school.

Sally Rowe said,

“We always say you should love everyone, but as Christians we found this concerning. Some days he was dressed as a girl, and some days dressed as a boy.”

Father: “There are boys, and there are girls”
The presenter asked whether there was anything other than the clothes that worried them or their son.

Nigel Rowe replied,

“Yes, identifying some days as a boy and some days as a girl, for us is very difficult, it’s inconsistent. Our son was brought up in the way there are boys and there are girls.”

The parents agreed they would not be concerned if girls wore trousers to school.

“That’s normal,” said Nigel.

Father: “We were concerned for welfare of all children”
He went on to explain he and his wife wrote a letter setting out their points.

“We did get a staunch letter back, we love the school, we love the parents and the students. Letter said under Equality Act this is how it will be. Children can come in as they wish, boys, girls can dress anyway they like. We were concerned for welfare of all children, worried it’s going to cause confusion.”

The presenter said if the parents of the child were happy, the diocese had said it was legal and that pupils should learn to respect diversity of all kinds, what was the problem

Nigel replied,

“From our perspective all kids are equal, but we have boys and we have girls. It’s within our DNA. A child of six years old does not have the mental capacity to work out that kind of thing.”

Better judge than child’s parents?
Asked by the presenter whether Nigel and his wife were a better judge than the child’s own parents, health officials or school, Nigel replied,

“We’re in a public space. This is not the place for this agenda.”

Father: Disagree about bullying
The presenter went on to explain the growing evidence of a rise in self harm and suicide of transgender children and adults because they are not accepted.

Nigel replied,

“I don’t believe that’s the case, not because they are transgender, I don’t believe people are bullying them in any way.”

Mother: “Should be dealt with in private sphere”
Sally Rowe added that their second child was very unhappy and wanted to change schools because of it. She went on to say,

“If a child has gender confusion it needs to be done in private setting. It’s a massive thing for a six year old, they need support, love and compassion and it should be dealt with in a private sphere first and not in a school where it affects many people.”

Diocese: “Church of England schools .. respect diversity of all kinds”
Jeff Williams, director of education for the Diocese of Portsmouth, said:

“Church of England schools are inclusive environments where pupils learn to respect diversity of all kinds. Like any other state school, our schools comply with the legal requirements of the Equalities Act 2010. Among other things, this requires schools to accept the wishes of children and their families with regard to gender identity. It would be unlawful for any of our schools to do otherwise.

“Because our schools have a Christian ethos, we also believe that children of all faiths and those with none should all feel equally welcomed, valued and nurtured as children of God within our learning communities.”

The Isle of Wight council have said they would not be commenting on the matter as this is a diocese run school.

Article edit
9.50am Comment from Diocese added.

Image: barneymoss under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 11th September, 2017 8:46am



Filed under: Education, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. These parents do not represent the views of most parents at this school. The school has been rated good by OFSTED & is held in the highest regard by almost every other parent I know.
    I’m glad that my son attends this school with it’s open, tolerant and welcoming attitude. The school enables children to flourish and reach their full potential, be they girls, boys, questioning, trans or whatever.
    We live in the 21st century. I’m not religious, but am glad to see a church school setting such a positive example.
    Religious bigotry and intolerance have no place in society and especially in our schools where children need to be educated and prepared for the real world.
    It’s a shame that such medieval attitudes are still held by some people. I’m thankful that people with these views are no longer playing a part in the life of this school.
    I couldn’t imaging being part of a better school, teaching staff and wider community of parents.

    Some people are trans: get over it!

    • Children of average body size, who believe themselves to be very overweight and suffer mental trauma due to this misconception, are treated for a mental health issue.
      If a child with a penis believes he is a girl he is given a dress and we are supposed to ‘support’ the poor thing.
      Those who question this are accused of ‘hate crimes’ while limp wristed ‘liberals’ use it as a means to show the rest of us how ‘virtuous’ they are.
      The idea that this issue should be a matter for the Diocese (run by men who wear dresses) rather than the elected, accountable local authority would be mildly amusing were it not so shameful.

      • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

        11.Sep.2017 10:44pm

        It is a matter for the child’s parents and healthcare professionals.

        Not for a pair of swivel-eyed religious fundamentalist zealots who are annoyed that their overprotected, cotton-wool wrapped children are upset that boys wish they were girls.

        As for being “hate crimes”? This lad. Six years old, could have continued under the care of the professionals mentioned above. One way or another he would have resolved his issues.

        Now, courtesy of the Rowes, he is going to find himself in the middle of a media storm that will likely do untold damage.

        This isn’t about being “limp wristed liberals”, this is about a pair of nasty, hateful people picking on a six year old boy to satisfy their own hateful zealotry.

        Don’t forget, they *could* have just removed their children from this school without causing this rumpus. Their little snowflakes wouldn’t have to see the horror of a boy in a dress, and the boy could sort out his own issues, undisturbed.

        • I agree that this is a matter for the child’s parents and health care professionals. Sadly, it would appear that they have signally failed in their duty of care and instead opted for the ‘progressive’ approach of attempting to force people who are uncomfortable with their choice to accept it.
          I see nothing in the report that leads me to believe them to be ‘swivel-eyed religious fundamentalist zealots’, ‘nasty’ or ‘hateful’ who ‘cotton wool wrap’ their children. Perhaps you know them personally but the article leads me to believe them as nothing more than normal Christian folk concerned for their children.
          I wonder if they were Muslim folk concerned that boys in dresses doesn’t fit with their religeon would attract the same degree of vitriolic bile.
          Any parent who wishes their child to go to school to learn, not to be on the front line of a societal changing culture war should be supported.

          • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

            11.Sep.2017 11:47pm

            Well, there we will have to differ as I see nothing in that report to indicate that they are anything other than swivel-eyed fundamentalist zealots.

    • Totally agree, except that you don’t need to be ‘transgender’ to want to wear a particular item of clothing – skirt or trousers or dress or whatever.

      This is about freedom to wear whatever clothes we feel comfortable in.

      Forcing people to wear something or forbidding them from wearing something else simply because of their gender is no different from forcing people to wear or not wear certain clothes because of their class – like the old sumptuary laws which banned poor people from wearing bright colours – or the colour of their skin.

      Children should be allowed to wear what they want to wear, just as adults should be.

      Bob Marley sang ‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery’. The idea that because of the shape of your genitals you have to wear certain types of clothes is a form of mental slavery, and it’s about time we broke free of it.

      • Sadly this isn’t about the right to wear what one wants; it’s about children under threat of ‘sanction’ (punishment) for using what for millenia has been the right word but has now been deemed wrong.

  2. Amazes me when people use their “It’s my beliefs” card. These people don’t follow the bible word for word they just use whichever convenient verse they can to justify their own bigotry and prejudice.

  3. Suruk the Slightly Miffed

    11.Sep.2017 1:09pm

    —“We’re in a public space. This is not the place for this agenda.”—

    But they decided to thrash it out in the very public sphere of the courts, newspapers and radio?

    —“Sally Rowe added that their second child was very unhappy and wanted to change schools because of it”—

    And how many other children are “unhappy”? Few, I suspect, as the Rowe’s are the only ones making a very public rumpus about it. So is the problem down to the issue of a boy wearing a dress, or the way they have indoctrinated their own child?

    —“If a child has gender confusion it needs to be done in private setting. It’s a massive thing for a six year old, they need support, love and compassion and it should be dealt with in a private sphere first and not in a school where it affects many people.”—

    This says it all, doesn’t it? The best way to show “love and compassion” to this child is to make a national media circus out of the whole affair?

    Frankly, people like the Rowes make me sick. Hiding behind their supposedly Christian ethos (I say supposedly, because no true Christian would be so uncaring and self-righteous) to justify their own vicious bigotry.

  4. Robert Jones

    11.Sep.2017 2:24pm

    I’m just amazed – and delighted – by the attitude of the school. Just imagining what my primary school headmistress, the late Miss Hammett, would have said if a boy had turned up in a dress is enough to chill the blood. (And blast the eardrums – she had a voice you could hear over a monsoon….)

  5. Hi, as someone who wears a kilt most of the time I feel for the young person. Certainly he should be allowed to wear whatever he pleases within reason. Actually it possibly would be a good idea for all young children to actually wear skirts or dresses. The reason is two fold, firstly the kids would have a greater respect for each other and there would also be less discrimination. As far as gender equal, it is possible that the boy just wants to wear an unbifurcated garment. For people to decry this and try to get the establishment to castigate the boy for his wanting to wear a dress is wrong.
    Just a thought, how about the school offering a kilt or grey skirt for either sex.

  6. Hasn’t the Bishop already set a precedent with his work apparel?

  7. I think it’s very brave of the little lad at that age to be comfortable in his own skin many children who feel that way hide their feelings. Good on the parents and the school for allowing him to dress the way he chooses.. What the rowes should be saying to their own child is that’s how he wants to be so that’s how it is. Before they damage both kids with their narrow minds. This world is changing. Kids are becoming more aware at an early age that they’re are many different types of people and that most of those difference will/should be accepted.. so help them except people’s differences and embrace these changes before more Kids end up in therapy

    • There are people who identify as animals (yes, I know it sounds absurd but it’s true, look it up). Should a child who identifies not as one of the opposite gender but as, say, a stoat or a wilderbeast or perhaps a coypu be supported in their new identity? Should they be allowed to school in a furry suit?
      And of course there’s the matter of toilets; thorny enough when boy in dresses are using the girls facility. Would child/animals have to go outside? Maybe a litter tray in the corridor?
      You may think I’m being flippant but schools in the USA are already facing such issues.
      By the way therapy should be the first stop for a child with a penis who thinks himself a girl, not the frock aisle at New Look.

      • hialtitude

        12.Sep.2017 6:33am

        This is about a child, with gender issues, shame on you. Intolerance is very unbecoming.

        • mildedric

          13.Sep.2017 9:05am

          A boy, six years old, arrives at school in a dress and announces that sometimes it’s a boy and sometimes it’s a girl. The school authority then annonces that all the other six year old children will be sanctioned (ie punished) for ‘misgendering’ it – ie calling it ‘him’ when it feels like a girl AND ‘her’ when it feels like a boy. And you call this ‘tolerance’?
          With respect, you should swot up on your Orwell and pay particular attention to ‘newspeak’.

          “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

          • Sally Perry

            13.Sep.2017 9:14am

            You should swot up on your manners and try not refer to a child as ‘it’!

          • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

            13.Sep.2017 2:07pm

            The likes of Orwell and Huxley wrote about dystopian futures where the freedom of people is repressed and any impure thoughts or actions are severely punished.

            How ironic that you are, therefore, quoting Orwell in support of a pair of religious authoritarians who are going to extreme lengths to subjugate the freedom of a child to be who they want to be.

            Telling the truth, by the way, is only a revolutionary act when you are actually telling the truth. All you are doing is having a swivel-eyed rant, and that really doesn’t count.

      • The toliet issue is easily resolved.

        Get rid of the stupidly unhygienic bullying headquarters that are separate cubicles in rooms labelled for boys or girls.

        Replace them with lots of individual inclusive rooms, each with its own door, toilet and washbasin.

  8. hialtitude

    11.Sep.2017 7:11pm

    I find it hard to think of anything charitable to say about the Rowe’s attitude.

    If the child is confused about their gender identity then I imagine that the fuss they are making about this is never going to help matters or the child. It would be better for all if they simply kept their views to themselves.

  9. I wonder if this 6year old actually has gender issues. I think it more likely that the parents are taking the micky at the boy’s expense when others at the school ridicule him.

    • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

      12.Sep.2017 8:29am

      On what grounds do you make that assertion?

      What are your qualifications to make this assertion?

      What is your knowledge of this situation that gives you the insight to make this assertion?

  10. Congratulations to this school and the parents of the boy who chooses his uniform.
    As an eleven year old newly elected to the school council I remember the campaigning to allow girls to wear trousers and now it is commonplace, even mandatory.
    Wear your school uniform with pride!

  11. pretty ridiculous for the Christian parents to become so alarmed IMHO – chill out!

    monday’s broadcast on bbc radio 4 – today –

    susie green from mermaids on (Tuesday) radio 4’s `today` – 2 hours and 50 minutes approx. into programme.

    empowering and facilitating trans – mermaids –

    for those who oppose trans –

    on premier Christian news web site :

    david walliams – novel –

    • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

      13.Sep.2017 2:13pm

      Oh my.

      Read that Premier News link at your peril.

      Such a lot of vicious, nasty, people pretending to be “Christians”. Some of the comments actually made my skin crawl.

      • Madam, you said:-
        “Telling the truth, by the way, is only a revolutionary act when you are actually telling the truth. All you are doing is having a swivel-eyed rant, and that really doesn’t count.”
        Leaving your rather angry insult aside, the truth is that this child is 100% male. That it ‘feels’ female sometimes (and male at others) is of no relevance to the truth. And if you had swotted up on your Orwell as I advised you would understand that the truth of any matter does and indeed must take precedence over how someone – anyone – feels.
        Making rules about feelings which deny truth and punishing children for transgressing them is one more step along the road to a dystopian future.
        The road to hell is, as they say, paved with good intentions.

        • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

          14.Sep.2017 1:23am

          That wasn’t an “angry” insult, deary, that was an honest appraisal of your mindset.

          I could now add “confused” to “swivel-eyed rant” after the above pile of gibberish.

          • mildedric

            15.Sep.2017 8:31pm

            I note that rather than dealing with what I have said you have taken the usual resort of limp liberals when faced with scientific truth by ignoring it.

          • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

            15.Sep.2017 10:43pm

            Love how swivel-eyed neo-cons think their gibberish is “scientific fact”

  12. Robert Jones

    13.Sep.2017 7:20pm

    If you raise children to think in tramlines, never deviating from the set course, this is what you’re going to get – of course they’ll be confused when they encounter circumstances for which their upbringing has not prepared them. Just thinking about it for a second, I realize how much this explains about the intolerance – racial and gender based – which exists in the world today.

    But what do you do with confused children? Confirm them in their confusion? “Make a stand”, on issues affecting 6 year olds, and use them, whether that’s what you intend or not, to carry the burden of your own confusion, or bigotry? Plunge them and their school into controversy which affects not only your own children but the child at the centre of all this? Is this giving the children the opportunity to grow, to come to terms with their own identity, to learn how to behave towards others without bullying them for being different, or having to put up with bullying? It isn’t, is it?

    Mr and Mrs Rowe, these children are six years old – and you’re not helping any of them.

    • mildedric

      15.Sep.2017 8:34pm

      What say you about the punishment threatened by the school authorities to six year olds who use what they deem (through Orwellian newspeak)the ‘wrong’ words?

      • Robert Jones

        15.Sep.2017 9:17pm

        That would rather depend on what the ‘wrong words’ were, which is not a point raised in the article, but may have been in subsequent posts; I haven’t read through all of them. Supply a bit of chapter and verse, or point me to the post, and I shall endeavour to respond.

    • Well said Robert.

      Our society’s ideas about gender are like a form of mental apartheid or segregation – as you say, tramlines, in which we get trapped.

      We need to grow out of this mental slavery, and think of ourselves as human beings, with every individual having their own potential, and their gender being only one among many aspects of their identity.

      For far too many people, their identity is so closely tied up with some aspect of themselves – usually gender, nationality, or religion, but all sports of other aspects get used by other people – that they have stunted their own growth as human beings. That’s tragic for them, but at least it’s their one choice. But imposing that restriction on other people is not acceptable.

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