Gender row school: ‘None of our pupils identify as a cat’

School under investigation over gender controversy hopes government guidance will help teachers

School under investigation over gender controversy hopes government guidance will help teachers

22 Jun 2023, 17:21

More from this author

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.”

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Abbie Turner

    Could you stop conflating being transgender, and being a furry? These are completely seperate issues, and neither community ( especially the trans community) invite this misrepresentation.

    • Malcolm Donnison

      This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. It’s been blown out of all proportion and misrepresented . There are only two genders, male or female and that is a fact that is carried through our existence in this planet. What are we allowing the future generation to become!!!!


        There are two *sexes*. Gender is different: it’s a social construct and has nothing to do with one’s biological sex. Male and female exists throughout nature: men and women only exist humankind.

        • Mate no offense but you are just repeating something you’ve been told to believe by people the original poster clearly disagrees with. We’re getting to the point now where people are claiming they have female penises. The terms are becoming meaningless because they are inconvenient. So while I understand why you are saying what you’re saying, your view is already becoming obsolete and in a year you will be saying something even more extreme just to keep up with the trends. The average person doesn’t have time or energy for this.

      • Ken flemington

        There was a time when teachers could be respected for their knowledge. How can a sane person respect a teacher, ir indeed anyone, who is misguided enough to think there are more than 2 genders ( gender is just a polite word for sex) or that anyone can change sex or species?

        • The irony of you saying “There was a time when teachers could be respected for their knowledge”, when someone just tried to educate you and you completely melt down about it. “gender is just a polite word for sex” – no, no it isn’t. Sounds like someone needs educating.

        • Garry

          No gender is not a synonym for biological sex so it is not the teacher being ignorant in this instance. To quote the Oxford dictionary definition “ expressed by social or cultural distinctions and differences, rather than biological ones”

    • Sandy Cameron

      I don’t see where Schoolsweek are conflating anything.

      I only see a typical muddled story that the press like to pick up on, and the DfE looking stupid.

    • As both a trans person and a furry, I agree with Abbie Turner’s comment.

      Tbh ‘identifying’ as a cat isn’t really a furry thing, it’s something called ‘otherkin’ (which I support – they get a bad rep because of the media).

      However if a child of that age did identify as a cat, they’ll probably soon stop as there is a high chance it’s just a fun thing they want to do

  2. Stephen Reeds

    Apparently, the teacher who used the phrase despicable also thinks that the child branded thus needs “re educating”, a Maoist phrase if ever I heard one. That’s what we expose our children to. Maybe she should read 1984. Probably wouldn’t understand the similarities.

  3. David hill

    There are two genders male or female all the rest are a absolute joke pandering to the people and the woke brigade who haven’t got a clue what they are so god help us

  4. Robert Macfarlan

    Teaching’s gone mental. Could I identify as a ceiling or WW1 bomber? This must be so disruptive to all the other children, and mentally damaging.
    It needs to be gripped and these kids sent home for discussions with their parents and teachers – and probably doctors, too.

    • Richard

      I have to wonder if you’ve actually read the article you’re commenting under. The article states clearly that

      * There are no pupils identifying as animals
      * It is not clear from the recording that a child asked to identify as a cat.

      From what I’ve seen of the transcript it sounds like cat was brought up as a straw man argument by the pupils. There may be a transgender pupil who the two are accused of having bullied, yet that is also not clear from the recording. Whatever triggered this happened before the recording.

  5. Anonymous

    There are so many arguments to pick apart here. Firstly identifying as a cat isn’t being a furry. That’s Zoanthropy. Identifying as an *anthropomorphic cat* is being a furry. Secondly furries don’t go around meowing and this other stuff. Being a furry is about liking the anthropomorphic, anything else is preferential. Thirdly why the hell would you cancel children for being children? Ofc they’re going to cause disruption, they’re having fun. Maybe they should act properly but they don’t have to stop believing what they want to in order to do that.
    Fourthly being a furry has nothing to do with being trans. There are cis and trans furries.

    • Reading through the responses here that feel that they need to clarify the difference between being a furry and otherkin and the like makes one think that a lot of people really have lost sense of reality and common sense.This is not about those who identify as transgender per se but is about the very bizarre ideology referred to as gender identity ideology that has spawned all this madness. In the meantime, I’d like to know where the tape came from if its not linked to a child ‘identifying as a cat’ in the school? Is this a teacher in a class in Rye College or not? What an earth is going on??