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
“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.
“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.
9.50am Comment from Diocese added.