Schools are increasingly sanctioning the use of male names for girls as young as 13 without the consent of their parents.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has found three mothers discovered schools had allowed their daughters to be called by boys’ names without first being consulted.
Campaigners say some in the education sector are misinterpreting – or even misusing – equality regulations.
The mothers, who each spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their children, say that their daughters, who are all under the age of 16, were given boys’ names by teachers after saying that they identified as male.
The ‘new’ names were used in the classroom, and on pupil registers and official communications from school authorities.
One claims to have been told by her daughter’s secondary school when she objected that she had ‘no say’ in the 13-year-old’s decision because it was the ‘child’s right’ to decide their gender.
Describing the experience two years ago, the woman, who is in her 50s and from Scotland, said: ‘The school only phoned us to tell us it was happening and we had no say. They just said it’s the child’s right and you have to follow that.’
She said the school changed her daughter’s name and pronouns on the school’s internal IT records as well as using her new gender identity in letters sent home.
She says that her requests to reinstate the original name on school documents were initially ‘ignored’, adding: ‘It took me a year and three months to get the school to change her records back to her legal name, although they were still calling her by her preferred name.’
Another mother, who is in her 40s and from the South of England, received a call from her daughter’s teacher last October.
‘Just to let you know I’ve had your daughter contact their tutor and they’ve identified as being male,’ the teacher told her. ‘So they’ve asked for a new name and pronouns and I just thought I’d let you know that’s going ahead.’
The woman said her 13-year-old daughter had told her: ‘I’ll get bullied for being a girl but I won’t get bullied for being trans.’
The woman requested a meeting with the school to get the name change reversed but even after doing so, she says two teachers insisted on treating her daughter as a boy. It continued until the mother called them personally to object.
A third mother, aged 42, from London, learned that her daughter was being referred to by a male name when a letter addressed to the pupil arrived at her home last spring.
‘We started receiving correspondence from the school about this other person who was being referred to as our son,’ she recalled. ‘On the request of someone who had just turned 14, they did this.’
Amanda Jones, a barrister specialising in gender law, said: ‘Schools behaving in this way are acting outside their powers. Parental responsibility can be over-ruled, but by court order, not school diktat.’
Stephanie Davies-Arai, who runs Transgender Trend, a campaign group alarmed by the sharp rise in the number of young people presenting as the opposite sex, said: ‘We’ve definitely seen an increase in parents reporting these stories. The schools are simply going along with what the child wants and not telling the parents.
‘It’s partly because they are being advised by transgender school toolkits. They are also scared of accusations of transphobia.’
One popular ‘trans schoolkit’, published by Brighton and Hove Council with the LGBT youth charity Allsorts, says: ‘Care should be taken to ensure the wishes of the individual pupil or student are taken into account with a view to supporting them during potential transition.
‘Confidential information must not be shared even with the parents without the child or young person’s permission unless there are safeguarding reasons for doing so.’
Cllr Hannah Clare, Children, Young People & Skills Committee Chair at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: ‘The Toolkit is a guide for teachers and other staff, not a policy.’
The number of girls identifying as boys has soared in recent years. Critics say they are being influenced by social media and popular transgender YouTube stars such as Alex Bertie and Ash Hardell.
Last night, a Department for Education spokeswoman said: ‘Schools should work with parents, pupils and public services to decide what is best for individual children as these are complex and sensitive matters to navigate.’