This School Is Letting Students Define Their Gender Identity With Full Autonomy

Photo: Megan Madden
A London girls' school has introduced new measures that allow pupils to define their gender identity. St Paul's Girls' School, whose alumni include MP Harriet Harman and Vogue UK's departing editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, says it "takes a neutral stance, neither encouraging nor discouraging” a student's decision to identify either as a boy or gender-neutral. "We consulted the pupils to find out what the issues were. Their main preoccupation has been to look after people who don’t want to identify as one gender or another," the school's High Mistress Clarissa Farr told The Sunday Times. When SPGS students reach the age of 16, they can now submit a written request to be known as a boy or gender-neutral while at school. St Paul's says in its new "gender identity protocol" that parents will ideally be "fully involved in such discussions." Sue Sanders of Schools Out UK, an organization which works towards achieving LGBT equality in education, hailed the new measures as "sensible and smart." "The gender fluidity of young people has become more pronounced in the last three to four years; there is a growing confidence in young people to challenge binary constraints," Sanders told The Guardian. "This is really about organizations keeping up with how people are perceiving themselves – this is part of the whole process of exploding those gender boxes." The Sunday Times reports that up to 10 students have already used the new protocol, so they are known at school either as boys or gender-neutral.

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