New guidance for Vale of Glamorgan schools on how to treat transgender pupils is set to be debated by the council over concerns it is “just warm words”, writes Matt Discombe.

Plaid Cymru has called for a debate on the Vale council’s recently published ‘Transgender Inclusion Toolkit’ for schools and other settings.

The toolkit, approved by the council’s cabinet on April 30, encourages schools to avoid gender-specific activities where possible, and to allow transgender pupils to choose toilets, changing rooms and PE groups which matches their gender identity.

But Plaid Cymru councillor Ian Johnson has called for a debate on the guidance to ensure it is “practical and not just warm words”. 

Cllr Johnson said: “I want to know how these guidelines will work in a practical context – especially the prevention of bullying, proper mental health support for young people and how children’s confidentiality can be kept within schools.

“We also need to resolve tensions between protecting the rights of young people who are transgender or gender questioning and the rights of other vulnerable young people to privacy and safe spaces including within toilets and changing rooms. It is important that schools and other locations have the most appropriate facilities, and what was built in the 1960s and 1970s might not be the best now.

 “I want to be sure that Vale council and others have the capacity to successfully and appropriately implement these guidelines otherwise they run the risk of just being warm words and will fail to support the vulnerable people that they have been developed to protect.”

Councillor Johnson called for a debate on the toolkit as the council’s learning and culture scrutiny committee at their next meeting on May 22. 

Cllr Bob Penrose, Vale of Glamorgan council cabinet member for learning and culture, said: “We are confident that the guidance is both appropriate and practical, but it is only guidance. How schools seek to use it is a matter for headteachers and governing bodies who will be free to use other resources as they see fit. “Like all of the guidance we provide it will be reviewed periodically.”