Nigel and Sally Rowe, 44 and 42 respectively from the Isle of Wight (England), had their son stop attending Church of England School to be home-schooled. The couple are also planning to sue the school on the grounds that it has not respected their Christian beliefs and for failing to consult them and other parents.
Their reason? Their son came home one day confused about a classmate who turned up in a girl’s dress and who asked to be called with a girl’s name.
“We’re concerned about that because it’s very confusing about how do children deal with that. Let’s remember that these are primary school children, six years of age, and we don’t, we’re worried with what effect that can have on the other children and you know how they deal with that,” Mr. Rowe explained in an interview with BBC last September 11.
Mrs. Rowe further told BBC that the school informed them they would need to accept if a child wants to be identified in a different gender than what is assigned at birth.
While she believed that young children are adaptable in understanding issues once they are clarified to them, Mrs. Rowe said, “They are also vulnerable… They know that this child is a boy but they are being forced to pretend that they are not a boy, that they’re a girl. That’s quite hard for children to get their head around.”
Reactions to the couple’s controversial views were swift.
LGBT campaigner and transgender Jane Fae, who transitioned in her 50’s, said in the same BBC interview that Mr. and Mrs. Rowe misjudged the situation. Children with gender issues needed sympathy to prevent them from being bullied.
Fae further explained, “I have a child who took a lot of bullying on my behalf and that bullying was exactly the same: it was parents saying ‘we have a right to an opinion’ and they told their children their opinion, and having told their children their opinion, their children thought it was open season on bullying my son.”
Mienna Jones, a mother to a six-year-old Dexter who was born female and who liked to be dressed up as a boy growing up, from Hertfordshire told Metro.co.uk in an interview last September 14, “When I saw the TV interview with the Rowes, I felt sad and shocked that they are still that ignorant, and I felt really sad for their children, because – I believe – their parents are hiding behind the barrier of religion to spread ignorance.”
Luckily, the transition of her child was greeted with love and support from the school, family and friends.
‘When the teachers eventually addressed the school and said “Look, Callie’s a boy now”, one of the kids just replied: “Well we knew that – can we carry on playing now?”’ Jones said.
Church of England School is a primary religious school in Isle of Wight, UK’s largest and second most populous island. It is under the Diocese of Portsmouth, who maintained that it is required by law to respect all diversity.
UK schools, in general, are required to respect some legal background as reflected in their policies. They are free to write down rules on uniforms, for example, for as long they don’t violate human rights and equality legislation.