A school at the centre of a gender row now under government investigation has said none of its pupils “identify as a cat or any other animal”.
South-east regional director Dame Kate Dethridge has been sent into Rye College in East Sussex after a recording went viral of a teacher branding a pupil “despicable” during an argument over identity.
It has been reported the dispute erupted after the child rejected a classmate’s request to be identified as a cat, but this is not clear from the recording.
Cat claims questioned
In a statement to Schools Week, the trust said it wanted to “clarify that no children at Rye College identifies as a cat or any other animal”.
During the recording of the argument, the teacher can be heard saying “gender is not linked to the parts you were born with – [it’s] about how you identify”.
They added “if you’re talking about the fact that cisgender is the norm, that you identify with the sexual organ you are born with… that’s basically what you’re saying, which is really despicable”.
The member of staff tells the pupil “if you don’t like it you need to go to a different school”, before the child says “how can you identify as a cat when you’re a girl?” at the end of the row.
Bosses from the Aquinas Church of England Trust, which runs Rye College, met with Dethridge today.
“We have now met with the DfE to share an update on the events which took place before, during and after the recording,” a spokesperson added.
“This meeting was a positive step and we will continue working closely with them to ensure any appropriate action is taken.”
School welcomes gender guidance
The Department for Education is preparing to publish its long-awaited guidance on gender identity in schools, however it may not come this week as previously reported.
The Rye College spokesperson welcomed the release of the advice and said she hopes it will help “all teachers and schools” address the topic in the classroom.
“This will be particularly useful in developing future training to ensure staff feel confident, well-equipped and well-prepared to address these issues.”
The Sun reported on Sunday the guidance will say schools will be banned from allowing youngsters to change their gender without their parents’ consent.
Commenting on the Rye College incident, a DfE spokesperson said the government has been “clear teachers should not teach contested views as fact”.
“It’s important that parents and carers are reassured their children aren’t being influenced by the personal views of those teaching them.
“Following concerning reports regarding Rye College, the education secretary asked the regional director to look into the matter further to establish the full details of the case and whether the school requires any additional support.”