I'm not surprised the absurd Church of England says boys can wear tiaras to school. All common sense has been lost in the gender debate, writes A.N. WILSON

New rules for faith schools suggest that males should be able to wear items usually worn by females (stock photograph)?

New rules for faith schools suggest that males should be able to wear items usually worn by females (stock photograph)?

The rolling tide of transgender propaganda continues to gather force. Recently, the retail chain Topshop made clear its changing cubicles are now gender neutral, even though thousands of women feel more secure undressing in an all-female space.

How many people — really how many — feel deeply wounded by the fact there are female changing rooms which are separate from male changing rooms? Could they not, politely and kindly, be told to 'get over it'?

Meanwhile, it was reported on Sunday that drag queens are being brought into taxpayer-funded nursery schools in London to teach children about sexual and gender diversity.

Confusion

Nursery bosses believe it will be good for these very young children to meet people who 'defy rigid gender restrictions'. I would humbly suggest they should be learning to add up and spell words correctly, but there you are.

One could argue that those nurseries are only following the lead of the Scottish government, which recently issued guidance that would permit primary school pupils to change gender without their parents' permission.

Those of us who have a love-hate relationship with the Church of England, admiring its fundamental principles of Christian worship, but increasingly despairing at its innate absurdity and collective intellectual cowardice, knew it would not be long before it yielded to the current fad.

Sure enough, it has now ruled that in its 4,700 C of E schools new guidelines must be followed on cross-dressing and 'transgender' questions.

School uniform is seen to create potential difficulties for 'trans pupils' and should, if necessary, be abolished. Boys as young as five should be encouraged, if they wish, to come to school wearing tiaras, tutus and high heels.

There is so much emotional and mental confusion going on here, one really does not know where to begin unravelling it — but let it be said loud and clear that this ludicrous attempt to be kind has already led to unnecessary suffering.

Joshua Sutcliffe, a teacher aged 27, saluted a pair of pupils as 'girls'. One of them was 'identifying' as a boy, and the 'hurt' caused has led not merely to the teacher being reprimanded; he is in real danger of losing his job.

When I think of the severe way even the kindest teachers used to address us in the Fifties and Sixties, I do wonder what kind of schoolchildren we are breeding. Naturally, I rejoice in the new spirit of kindliness and tolerance which is abroad in the land, but this question of transgender has moved us all into a surreal inversion of common sense.

'Pupils need to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity and to explore the possibility of who they might be,' says the achingly solemn instruction from the Church.

'For example, a child might choose the tutu, the princess's tiara and heels and/or the fireman's helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment.'

If you were planning a children's party in your own home, it might seem reasonable to suggest the guests could come in any costumes they chose. If girls wanted to turn up dressed as Harry Potter, or boys as nuns, only a puritan would wish to stop them.

Quite why they should be allowed to do so at school is, surely, a different matter — and why any little child, of whatever gender, should be encouraged to wear high-heeled shoes is a mystery probably only the Archbishop of Canterbury and his politically correct consultants could answer.

The C of E has now ruled that in its 4,700 C of E schools new guidelines must be followed on cross-dressing and 'transgender' questions (pictured, Justin Welby)

The C of E has now ruled that in its 4,700 C of E schools new guidelines must be followed on cross-dressing and 'transgender' questions (pictured, Justin Welby)

Apart from anything else, they are extremely bad for your feet, as any bishop would know if he or she had worn them.

Although the new C of E guidelines come in the guise of a campaign against bullying, they specifically single out 'homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying'. And it is really yet another bit of propaganda from the more strident members of the transgender lobby, who can behave with such intransigence and intolerance towards anyone who dares question their ideas.

To be kind to anyone, of whatever age, who is confused about their identity is surely a moral duty for all of us — parents, children and schools.

I have no doubt there are people who feel, when they have become adults, that they were born into the wrong body: they deserve our understanding and should be helped with appropriate treatment. But for a pressure group to lobby for children to question the gender into which they were born seems not merely unhelpful but positively wicked.

The Tavistock Clinic in London, which has a unit that specialises in children and gender transitioning, reports a roughly 20-fold increase in the numbers it sees since 2009.

At the unit, children are sometimes not only given therapy but helped to take steps towards physical sex-change through the use of hormone blockers.

Indulge

It is one thing for a mature person to reach the conclusion that they were really, all along, meant to be a different gender. It is quite another to indulge such confusing ideas in the mind of a child who has not yet finished the bewildering, transformative business of growing up.

No decent school tolerates bullying of any kind, whether it is name-calling, cyber-bullying or physical abuse.

Clearly, to persecute a child because he or she is confused about their gender is as cruel as teasing them for being a 'ginger', or on grounds of race, or whatever it may be.

I do not believe any school in the country does not keep a sharp lookout for this abuse, nor do I think there is any trained teacher who does not know it is their duty to protect children from bullying.

It was reported on Sunday that drag queens are being brought into taxpayer-funded nursery schools in London to teach children about sexual and gender diversity

It was reported on Sunday that drag queens are being brought into taxpayer-funded nursery schools in London to teach children about sexual and gender diversity

Equally, many children go through phases when they do not particularly like identifying as their own sex. Think of Georgina, the 'tomboy', as they called them in those days, in Enid Blyton's The Famous Five, who cut her hair short, dressed like a boy and insisted on being called George.

Many a tomboy has groaned at having to wear a tunic or a skirt for their school uniform, and no doubt there are some boys who would like to wear girls' clothes, though we are surely at liberty to wonder how many. But there is the world of difference between a tomboy and a girl who is actively encouraged to think of herself as a male.

Derision

That's why I believe it is contemptible for the Church to kowtow to pressure from the transgender movement.

It is also completely illogical. Already, one of the Archbishop of Canterbury's advisers, Lorna Ashworth, a conservative evangelical, has resigned over the Church's desire to be so inclusive that it forgets its own teaching.

The C of E still officially teaches, as do all mainstream churches in the world, that God created the sexes to be distinct. It still condemns sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage as sinful, and forbids the homosexual marriage of its clergy.

Yet, while clinging to this severe and perhaps outmoded way of looking at sexual questions in its theological teachings, in its schools — where impressionable young people are most directly affected — it thinks it a good idea to proselytise about transgender rights.

It would be simply laughable were it not so troubling. This is a Church with an appalling record of covering up child abuse and sexual molestation by bishops and clergy.

Its teaching on sex and marriage is so muddled as to be beneath derision. And now it caves in to the transgender lobby in a move which, while trying to help the tiny number of children who want to 'identify' as a different gender, will surely serve only to confuse the great majority.

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