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Two Christian parents in the United Kingdom have prompted the government to revise its gender-related guidance for children after they took legal action when a school labeled their six-year-old son as potentially “transphobic.”
Nigel and Sally Rowe explained to Fox News Digital how they first raised concerns with their son’s Isle of Wight primary school after he came home “confused” by the school’s transgender-affirming policies toward his male classmates who identified as girls.
“For a child, it’s very confusing because they’ll go to school, and he’ll be taught one thing,” Nigel said. “And then he’ll think, ‘That’s not what my mommy and daddy were saying when I get home, and mommy and daddy are saying this.'”
Jonathan Butcher, who is the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, sees parallels in the battle the Rowes fought in U.K. and the one many parents are fighting over gender ideology in U.S. schools.
“This case helped raise awareness about the political indoctrination — and worse, harmful and irreversible health outcomes — that come from affirming so-called ‘gender’ transitions among minor children,” Butcher told Fox News Digital. “Remarkably, the U.K. Department of Education has said the agency will reform official guidance on these issues, something that is desperately needed in the U.S. now, as well.”
Nigel said of his case, “To cut a long story short, in the school, when our boys were six years of age, in the classroom one of their friends decided to transition from being a boy to a girl. It was just announced to the kids. And therefore, when we heard, we objected to that.”
Sally said there “was no consultation” on the topic with parents and that one of the students simply announced “in circle time” that he was a girl, which the Church of England School supported without question.
The Rowes, who have since taken to homeschooling their children, met with their son’s teachers at the time about the issue and sent a letter to the school laying out their concerns about its gender policies. They reportedly were met with a “cold” response.
Instead of listening to their concerns, they said the school sent them a letter that accused both them and their young son of potential “transphobic behavior.”
“In the letter, one of the paragraphs stated that we would be deemed ‘transphobic’ if we did not adhere to that belief; if we did not recognize a child can change his gender,” Nigel recounted. “But then my son, at the age of six, would also be deemed to be ‘transphobic’ if he didn’t use the correct pronouns or recognize the other child to be a little boy or little girl.”
After seeking legal counsel regarding whether the school’s behavior was legal, the London-based Christian Legal Centre (CLC) told them it was not.
“So, therefore, the rest is history,” said Nigel. “We decided to challenge this.”
In 2017, the Rowes appealed to the U.K.’s secretary of state for education to intervene in their case. After the Department of Education declined to step in, they petitioned for a judicial review from the U.K.’s High Court, claiming ministers had failed to adequately challenge the state’s gender guidance.
The policies at the school the Rowe boys attended were adopted based on the Cornwall Schools Transgender Guidelines, which were originally published in 2015. In addition to suggesting how best to implement gender-neutral toilets, the guidelines also encourage acceptance of cross-dressing and gender transition among children.
The guidance has been held up as best practice by other schools and local authorities, but since the Rowes won their case, the U.K. Department of Education will be reevaluating the guidance for transgender-identifying students.
The government agreed to settle the case last week after the Rowes won permission for a full judicial review hearing before the High Court in February. They intended to present international expert evidence exposing how transgender-affirming policies have led to “catastrophic outcomes” for children struggling with gender dysphoria.
They were awarded £22,000 in legal costs, which they are donating to CLC, and the government also committed to reform.
“Guidance for schools on transgender issues is being developed by the Department in conjunction with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with a view to undertaking a public consultation on draft guidance in Autumn 2022, to which the Claimants will have the opportunity to respond,” read the high court order, according to CLC.
Sally said they have received calls from concerned parents “up and down the country” with similar concerns about the guidance, which she notes is not a law, but often treated as such by some teachers.
As Christians, the Rowes see the battle raging over gender ideology as a fundamentally spiritual one. Given their son’s primary school was affiliated with the Church of England, they said they also went to the leaders of their local diocese about their ordeal. “They weren’t supportive at all,” Sally remembered.
“They didn’t have any form of foundation to their belief,” Nigel said of those they spoke to from the diocese. “They thought it was weak. They said, ‘Well, what is truth?’ And I said, well, as Christians, we believe truth to be biblical values, Judeo-Christian values.”
The Church of England has released its own guidance entitled “Valuing All God’s Children,” which advises 4,700 primary schools to affirm children as young as 5 years old in the opposite gender if they identify with it. The Rowes have called on the Church to scrap such guidance, saying with it “they are rather damaging all God’s children.”
Nigel said the Church of England representatives were against them then and remain opposed. “They still don’t support us,” he said. “It’s a bizarre world we live in.”
“The Bible says we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against spiritual principalities,” Nigel said, referencing the sixth chapter of Ephesians. “As a Christian, I believe that there is a demonic realm bent on the destruction of everything that is of God.”
Noting how families are foundational to society, Nigel said, “Destroy the family, and you’ll destroy society. And the saddest part is we know that from history. We know that from Marxism, we know that from Pol Pot, from Mao, from Stalin. Destroy the family and then the culture will collapse. I very much see [transgender ideology] as that, and it’s very much a movement throughout the world.”
Tiffany Justice, co-founder of the U.S. nonprofit Moms for Liberty, echoed Nigel’s assertion that schools interfering with children experiencing gender dysphoria is an international issue.
“We partner with our children’s schools, but we do not co-parent with the government,” Justice said. “And we have government schools, and so government needs to have an understanding of their place and there needs to be a boundary between school and home.”
“And I think what you’re seeing in the U.K. is very much parents wanting to redraw that boundary between school and home, and government and home. Because parents have the fundamental right — and this isn’t just an American right — parents have that fundamental right. It’s a natural right — if you believe in God, it comes from God or Nature’s God — an inherent natural right as a parent to direct the upbringing of your child.”
“And that’s their medical care, their education, their moral and religious upbringing. And parents shouldn’t be worried that every time they send their child to school that the teaching in the school is antithetical to the teaching in the home,” she added.