Much ink has been spilled, by commentators across the political spectrum, over the issue of whether the UK’s hate crime regime is fit for purpose. ‘Hate’ is defined subjectively, and this is cause for concern: a purported victim need only state that they felt victimised by the offending speech for the speaker to find themselves with a criminal record, even if what is recorded is a ‘non-crime hate incident’ available to anyone who makes an enhanced DBS check. Anyone claiming such victimhood, even in response to arguably trivial exchanges on social media, has a tool to suppress speech which they wish to silence. This is the issue which currently under judicial review in the case Fair Cop v College of Policing. We are still waiting for the judgment.
The Crown Prosecution Service is not an education entity, concerning itself with children only in special youth courts, and only in the rare instances that children commit terrible crimes. It does not, generally, have any mandate whatsoever, to interfere with the things children say, the jokes they make, and their private attitudes about people whose appearance and behaviour goes against social norms. It is the body which selects criminal cases to prosecute in the public interest. It prosecutes crimes to deter criminality, but it isn’t responsible for ensuring that every citizen knows what the criminal law is.
In England and Wales, the age of criminal responsibility is ten years old. Civil responsibility for children’s actions tends to fall to their parents or legal guardians until they reach legal adulthood – eighteen. For most children, the closest they will come to the shadow world of crime is when their fathers inhabit that place. The lower down the social register you happen to be, the more likely it is both that you actions will be regulated and punished by criminal law, and that the pressures of your social situation will drive you to break the lines established by the law.
Now, if you had told me a few years ago that the CPS was setting aside resources to educate children about elements of the criminal law, I would have been surprised, knowing first-hand how under-resourced that body is, and how many of its cases fall apart because of delays in disclosure of evidence. If you had told me it enlisted a controversial, highly partisan lobby group to develop a guidance for schools regarding just one of the categories of people covered by hate speech laws, with the aim of regulating children’s speech, and encouraging children to report one another for saying the wrong thing, I would have assumed the person telling me was misinformed. I would have said, well, the CPS does a bit of outreach to marginalised communities to help people understand what the law is, but they couldn’t possibly have anything to do with school children. How far from the CPS’s public remit would that be?
Yet here we are. The Crown Prosecution Service has issued, in partnership with (who else) Stonewall, new schools guidance on LGB/T+ hate crimes. Gender critical legal, feminist and Mumsnet Twitter reacted with instant alarm, aghast that the gender agenda is reaching for coercive control of children’s speech before it has even issued from their mouths, despite a concerted chorus of condemnation from concerned parents in response to a previous – publicly available – version of the guidance. The difference, this time, is that the CPS has made the document password access for school staff only. Parents are not welcome to view what the state prosecutor plans to do to their children.
I wonder why?
Could it be that they were worried about public scrutiny causing embarrassment and diminishing trust in a public authority, or something along those lines?
Well, I suggest we all – as parents – scrutinise the living daylights out of this CPS schools hate crime guidance. FOIs have been made, and parts of the document were shared on social media. Fair Cop and Safe Schools Alliance are on the case, kudos to them. Take a look at this activity worksheet about ‘Toilet Choice,’ bearing in mind the pack is aimed at 11-16 year olds. It clearly depicts an adult male, late twenties to mid-thirties, wearing some lipstick and with long hair signalling an affinity for feminine norms of self-presentation.
The first obvious question is, what is this person doing in children’s school toilets (or, indeed, and female toilet)? As an adult, the only reason for being present in a school is that he is on the staff, or is visiting to give a talk or provide some other service. In any event, there is no legitimate reason why he would need to enter the children’s toilets (or any female toilet). Staff and visitors have their own loos. This being the case, why is his decision to enter a children’s toilet being presented as an innocent “choice” between using the girls, or the boys?
I’ll leave you to answer that question.
My second question points at a strange, and sorry, state of affairs. By way of this document, the state prosecutor is, in effect, intimidating school leaders who, in turn, are burdened with the task of intimidating children into unquestioning obedience to Stonewall Law. As we know, that is no law at all, but a creature of policy spiral, and the capture of respectable fronts by bad actors. Have a look at Student Information Sheet 2. It lists the myriad ways a child could be implicated in a hate crime, or hate incident, in or out of school. The conduct ranges from the non-criminal but recordable as a hate incident – jokes, comments, name-calling – all the way to the crime of crimes, murder, with the aggravating factor of hostility towards a member of a protected category.
Yes. You read that right. This schools guidance sets out a continuum of illegal anti-LGB/T+ conduct, which starts with jokes, and ends with murder. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager every authority figure was intimidating to a degree, with representatives of the police and criminal justice system being the most intimidating of all. You learn, from an early age, that law enforcement can deprive people of their liberty, and see that they are locked in a cell. Adults with life experience balk at even the idea of being on the wrong side of agents of the law. They wield special powers over civilians, and our feelings of fearful respect for them are part of the way they maintain order.
I never foresaw myself making a defence of people’s right to insult one another at will, but I’m there. We must be free to insult, and to be insulted, without threat of state interference, otherwise the state has too much power over our expression, power which – as we are seeing – is all too easily abused. Hate speech laws are used to suppress unpopular speech which might, nonetheless, be necessary to the preservation of debate and, thus, democracy. See, for example, the joke limerick about males who identify as women, retweeted by the Fair Cop claimant Harry Miller, only to find his freedom of speech and livelihood under attack.
Had I been shown this guidance at school, as a young teen, there is no doubt that I would have internalised the whole package and come to believe that I had to watch my words very carefully around anyone who might think of themselves as ‘trans.’ The ordinary sight of a girl wearing school uniform trousers would put me on alert. A boy in a skirt would probably induce anxiety, because he’s no longer just that, but a special type of person, fragile as glass, and deserving of special treatment from everyone around him. I would have felt fear of punishment if, in high spirits, I spoke even a trivial word out of place which the trans-identified individual might react negatively to. The trans individual would have seemed inordinately powerful and protected, in league with the adults in authority around me.
Fearful of Big Brother reading my thoughts and finding the sin of transphobia there, or being accused of the hate incident or crime of ostracising a trans person, I would feel pressure to ensure the boy who wishes to be treated like a girl was included in all social activities, even if I didn’t warm to him at all as a person. I would possibly have grown to resent him, while berating myself inwardly for having such unkind thoughts: there is a lot of pressure on girls, in particular, to be kind to the point of self-abnegation. My muslim, sikh and orthodox jewish school friends would have felt additional pressures as the ‘acceptance without exception’ demand chafed against their religious upbringings, as would the girls who were on the spectrum, and the ones – and there were several – with bad fathers who eroded their personal boundaries while they were in the process of being built.
Is this really what the authors of the guidance intend? For children who are confused about gender to become political footballs in a game which stands only to benefit those adult males who want to invade the girls’ toilets in schools? Adult males who have absolutely no legitimate claim to be there, and whose overriding motives we can only guess: validation, predation – how are we to know, on sight? The question is why we should be put in the position of having to gauge the male’s intention to begin with. It’s more than a big ask. It’s an absolute liberty. We don’t want this. We don’t accept it.
Why do girls automatically come second to the sacred trans, for Stonewall and the CPS, unless they identify as boys? Stonewall knows equalities law inside out. In order to lobby government to replace sex with gender identity (“it’s just admin”) , they first had to know women and girls’ single-sex spaces are ring-fenced by the sex-based exceptions in the schedules to the Equality Act 2010. Stonewall strategically ignore the sex-based exceptions in order to bring about a Yogakarta-driven surpremacy of trans claims over other groups’ rights – women and girls, people religious, disabled people, ethnic minorities . This is profoundly troubling, and certainly not what the architects of equality law had in mind. Where is the ‘balance’ of rights, if the gender lobby keeps persuading government agencies that there is no fundamental category error in allowing males to self-identity their way into female rights? That’s not balance. That’s a blatant land grab.
My third question is whether Stonewall and the CPS know anything about, for example, life in East Germany under the Stasi’s reign of terror? It’s not a great film, but surely some of them watched The Lives of Others, even if they’re not fond of history books or documentaries? East German communism spiralled downward towards hell. Children reported their parents. Neighbour reported neighbour. Adults merely wanted to avoid being the totalitarian regime’s next victim, and sacrificed others to save their own skin. Children were brainwashed into taking for granted that this was normal social behaviour, doing as they were told, being good little agents of state power. Under totalitarian systems, it is nearly impossible to be, and to do, good. The system compels individuals to become ruthless to the point of inhumanity in pursuit of self-preservation, or preservation of their family unit.
Now, I’m not for a moment suggesting that we, here in the UK, have gone full-blown one-party state (although Labour’s struggle to grasp the unpopularity of their commitment to identitarian policies can make it seem that way in practice), but if ever there was a moment to register complete outrage at the creeping capture of respectable fronts by the gender lobby, it is on the publication of this schools guidance. This is Defcon 1. It is most certainly not a drill. This guidance seeks to instil within teachers, and girls, a completely misplaced and irrational deference to members of a group – males – who are statistically most likely to do them harm. It attempts to substitute this false consciousness for the girls’ innate instincts towards self-preservation, and for the teachers’ more recent training in the principles of children’s safeguarding.
Those of us inclined to critical thinking, and aspiring to learn from history, were astonished to hear that Sheffield University is now paying students by the hour to report on other students for using racist language. The learning which has been forgotten is that it never, ever ends well when the authorities enlists citizens to police one another. Under the influence of Mao’s communism, the student Red Guard publicly beat and humiliated their teachers, when they weren’t turning on one another in a desperate purity spiral of moral outbidding. The introduction of financial incentives to ferret out dissident opinions sets up a tragic momentum, the start of the spiral, where agents of authority cross ever more serious ethical boundaries in pursuit of the right numbers for their reports, so their own necks – and paychecks – will be saved.
If this is the direction the country is moving in, my husband and I will be re-starting the emigration conversations we had when Brexit was first announced. When an economy is artificially created on the basis of citizens reporting on one another, for financial gain, or simply to avoid social penalties, that starts to look awfully close to the Chinese system of social credit, and not the kind of place to raise your kids if you have any other options. For someone who now finds it impossible to stop speaking freely against the chilling effect, my days here would be numbered from early on. I don’t want to live in an authoritarian system which strangles all the things which make life tolerable. You don’t know what you’ve got til its on the way out. Now is the time to react.
The individual responsible is Chris Long, Chief Crown Prosecutor and CPS national lead on hate crime. I have written to him. You should too. Safe Schools Alliance with Fair Cop have a template letter to help you. Presumably, his strategy is to prevent future hate crime by putting the fear of authority – authority which holds transgender, queer and all manner of ‘P’ rights as supreme above all other protected groups – into children, before they start to question emergent orthodoxies around transgenderism, by ensuring they are quietly recorded as having a hate incident on their criminal record, closing doors to their future, or threatened with same.
This government document setting out what schools can do if faced with mounting parental backlash, such as the protests planned by Muslim parents at schools following the No Outsiders project, makes for equally sinister reading – it refers to “intelligence gathering” on bolshy parents who resist the rollout, and how school leaders can call upon government back-up to suppress protests happening outside schools (we saw the same thing down on the south coast when a school decided to coerce girls into wearing boys’ uniform trousers) – but it will have to wait for another day.
Suffice to say, for now, that it calls into question the reasons why RSE is being made compulsory, as of later this year, in the first place. Why does the Department for Education think it is justified in coercing into compliance parents who are opposed to gender ideology, when the resistance and dissent are so powerful, and so spread across parents from different backgrounds? If this is the way Stonewall thinks people’s hearts and minds can be won over, and transphobia purged from the land forever more, they are going to pretty shocked when they finally learn they couldn’t have got it more wrong. That said, it might be that even Stonewall doesn’t really care about helping trans people, just about keeping the money flowing in, and the gravy train to the House of Lords running as planned. If protecting the vulnerable was their true goal, presumably they would show an iota of concern about what their critics are saying.
No grown-ups are coming to deliver us from this. We have to be the adults in the room, and take back responsibilities vested in education professionals. We are fully entitled to do that. In fact, safeguarding demands that we do take such responsibility for our own children’s welfare. I have been speaking to my children’s schools about these issues since 2018. It has taken a lot of energy, a lot of persisting despite being ignored, minimised, dismissed and stonewalled – an experience most women will probably be familiar with – not to mention pushing through the fear both of inadvertently causing problems for my child, and of being labelled a bigot and a trouble-maker (neither of which are true – I’ve never complained about anything else, and don’t tend to jump on campaign bandwagons). You will know that some schools are more on top of the issues than others, for myriad reasons. I have found that the media stories emerging about the Tavistock judicial review have proved a watershed moment. What those who have followed this issue for years are now seeing is others, who haven’t followed it as closely, waking up to the full implications of policy capture, and collusion in this mass experiment on gender non-conforming children. I have high hopes for 2020, because I’ve seen the cultural shift happening up close, on a local level.
If your child’s school introduces the CPS hate crimes guidance, for example, and you find they haven’t performed a proper Equality Impact Assessment of it, that is a red flag which means you may have to gird your loins, find a like-minded friend if necessary, and go in and consult with them about it. You are the parent, the expert in protecting your child. You are not vulnerable like an employee, neither are you mindful of the impact of expressing dissent on your career progression. Really, once you’ve pushed past the fear of being mischaracterised as a bigot (another red flag, in itself, if your school tries to solve the problem by defaming you), you will find your have noting to lose and a lot to gain in terms of peace of mind that they are safeguarding properly. If you need an army behind you, Safe Schools Alliance can put you in touch with local people who think the same as you. I don’t doubt that we are in our tens of thousands, by now.
MUST WATCH: Posie Parker interviews Tracy Shaw of Safe Schools Alliance
Safe Schools’ Alliance shows you how to check your school’s policy for red flags
SSA also have a crowdfunder for their judicial review of Oxfordshire County Council’s policies, a case of national importance. Do sling them any spare cash.