OF all the revelations in the new report on how schools deal with transgender pupils, the one that really worried me was that the majority of children affected were born girls.
The report finds that, since 2010, girls aged between 12 and 17 have made up 86 per cent of all referrals to the NHS gender clinics.
It suggests that the onset of puberty is a particularly vulnerable time for girls as the “sexualisation of the female body is prevalent”.
The Policy Exchange investigation also discovered that nearly half of schools they polled allow pupils to self-declare their gender — with teachers accepting their new names and pronouns, and nearly a third of them are doing so without even telling their parents.
The vocal lobby would probably argue that there has always been this number of trans children — it’s only now, in this new, liberal world of tolerance, that they feel able to speak up.
But if that were true, wouldn’t we expect that roughly equal numbers of girls and boys would be affected?
I can’t help but think something else is going on.
Because the evidence is pretty clear that while puberty and adolescence is tough, it’s toughest of all for girls.
A 2021 Ofsted report found that just to get an education, most female pupils have to endure years of sexual assault, online abuse, upskirting and name-calling.
It is so common and so rarely punished, they told inspectors, that they see no point in reporting it.
Then they have to negotiate the alarming rise of toxic masculinity, with the likes of “influencer” Andrew Tate encouraging followers to belittle young women and treat them as sex objects.
The number of reported sex attacks continues to rise. There is a lot to worry about for young women in 2023.
Meanwhile, children are being told in schools there are more than 100 genders, and that “gender fluidity” is not a theory but a fact.
At classes run by the Kemnal Academies Trust, which manages 45 schools in the South East, for example, pupils as young as 12 were taught using a “gender unicorn” diagram, with a sliding scale of male, female and other identities.
No wonder so many youngsters are confused to the point that they question their own gender.
‘Hotbed of anxiety’
I was struck this week by an article by a secondary school teacher, writing under the pseudonym Harry Winter.
After struggling in school himself as a gay teenager, he set up a club for LGBT pupils, a safe space where they could talk through their concerns.
Instead, he wrote in a recent article, his club was “hijacked as a hotbed for gender anxiety and trans ideology”.
The pupils who attended, he said, appeared to be “shopping around” for different identities and changed their pronouns “on an almost weekly basis”.
But when pupils come forward to express those feelings, says the new report titled Asleep At The Wheel, many schools simply accept this self-diagnosis, without involving the child’s parents.
One of my friends is a teacher and reports being pressured to ask seven-year-olds about how they identify, and to teach them about what it means to be trans.
I suspect very few school heads actually believe this stuff. They’re just terrified of being labelled transphobic.
This week a “very concerned” Rishi Sunak promised to publish guidance by the summer term to ensure schools “know how to respond” to children asking about their gender.
The Prime Minister also said parents must know “what is being taught to their kids in school, especially on these sensitive areas”.
Good to know that this report has finally made the Government wake up and take notice.
Gwyn’s full of grace
AFTER having her reputation dragged through the mud in a ludicrous court case over a skiing incident, you could forgive Gwyneth Paltrow a few cross words.
Instead, after winning her symbolic $1 in damages, she walked across the courtroom and told her accuser: “I wish you well.”
That she should show good grace after the ordeal speaks volumes.
Every moment of the 2016 collision in a Utah ski resort was pored over in detail during the eight-day, televised trial.
The jury found Terry Sanderson was “100 per cent” responsible.
And despite claiming his life had been turned upside down by the crash, and that it had left him living like a “recluse”, Facebook photos showed him skiing, hiking and holidaying around the world.
I’m not sure I would have been so forgiving.
Cheat deserved jail
A TAKEAWAY boss who stole nearly £20,000 in Covid grants was spared from prison this week.
Abbas Sharief, former owner of the Middle Eastern Al-Khaf restaurant, claimed he had “succumbed to temptation” when Manchester City Council advised him to apply for the money.
But Sharief is far from the only one to be tempted.
Fraud and error are calculated to have cost the Government as much as £16billion across the Covid-19 emergency loan schemes, according to Parliament’s spending watchdog.
It was a strange and desperate time for many. But stealing is always wrong, whatever the circumstances.
I suppose many would be “tempted” by the prospect of what seemed at the time like “free” money.
But when temptation leads the way, the hope is that morals, a conscience and integrity intervene.
Frankly, I think he should have gone to jail.
Tech a break on AI
I KNOW Elon Musk thrives on controversy.
And I know he revels in saying things designed to provoke.
But when someone so embedded in the world of technology says that we need to halt the development of AI systems, we need to take it seriously.
The Twitter boss was one of hundreds calling for a six-month pause on AI experiments, in an open letter which warns of “profound risks to society and humanity”. This seems sensible to me.
AI is clearly a game-changer in many ways. But one of the problems is that it accentuates bias and can misinform and, essentially, make stuff up.
When you consider the effect that could potentially have on civilisation, it is very alarming.
We are already enslaved by technology – addicted to our phones, emailing day and night and bombarded by adverts tempting us to buy things.
Do we really want to take this a step further? There is something deeply chilling about machines devised to think like humans.
The letter warns that instead of developing advanced AI with care, recent months “have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy evermore powerful digital minds that no one, not even their creators, can understand, predict or reliably control”.
There are also valid concerns about millions of jobs becoming automated.
The impact of that on society is impossible to fathom.
Before Musk, Stephen Hawking warned in 2014 that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”.
I think we should heed their advice.
Jen, I’m just waiting for your mansion invite
JENNIFER ANISTON gave her 42million Instagram followers – of which I am unashamedly one – a glimpse inside her Bel Air mansion.
In a fun video, the actress shared clips of herself getting ready for the LA premiere of her movie Murder Mystery 2, in a shimmering silver Versace dress.
At 54, Jen just oozes class and attitude. I bet she’d be great fun on a night out.
But I’d be equally happy opening a bottle on her fabulous Bel Air balcony if she wants to give me a call.
Oscar ruling right
SO Oscar Pistorius has been denied an early release from prison.
His parole was rejected, with the former athlete only having served seven years for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
He will now remain behind bars until at least August 2024.
Reeva’s stoic mother June attended the hearing and her lawyer said in a statement: “While we welcome today’s decision, today is not a cause for celebration.
“Barry and I miss Reeva terribly and will do so for the rest of our lives.”
Oscar has time and time again failed to take responsibility for the devastating loss of Reeva.
He thought he would get away with murder. Thank goodness that no one is above the law.
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