MPs from across the political spectrum have expressed their condemnation of a bill proposed by the Reclaim Party’s sole member of parliament. The bill aimed to mandate schools to disclose the transgender status of students and ban social transitioning. On Tuesday, Andrew Bridgen presented the bill during a 10-minute rule session on gender and parental rights in schools, calling for teachers to reveal pupils’ transgender identity to their parents, prohibit social transition, and modify the sex education curriculum.
This is not the first time the idea of outing trans pupils has been suggested. In April, The Sunday Times reported that Department for Education guidance hinted at the possibility of implementing such a measure. Bridgen, who has represented North West Leicestershire since 2010, was expelled from the Conservative Party in April after drawing a comparison between COVID-19 vaccinations and the Holocaust. He subsequently joined Laurence Fox’s right-wing political party, which vows to wage a war against “woke” ideology.
The contents of the bill have left MPs “appalled” and have led to widespread criticism. In his speech, Bridgen argued that social transition represented a “conscious act of self-rejection of our biological reality.” He expressed his disgust at the idea that those “tasked with bringing up children have turned raising the next generation into a science experiment.” Bridgen stated, “The issue that I bring to the House today needs a bill, the very necessity of which is both grotesque and revealing of an absurdity: the turning of a blind eye to the real-world effects that seemingly good-faith legislation has had on our education system, on schools, and on society as a whole.”
Dismantling the male-female binary will “dismantle the world and pull out a foundational block of society,” Bridgen proclaimed. He warned fellow MPs, “Who knows where the Jenga tower may fall. But one thing is certain: the tower will fall, and we should all be ashamed that we would doom our children to such a fate.”
The MP also criticised the use of pupils’ preferred pronouns, the Equality Act, and sex education in schools. He contended that “What is happening in our schools is unacceptable, and there is a need for immediate action. Classrooms should be a safe harbour. Inclusivity has become a double-edged sword, cutting through the very fabric of childhood. Every child has the right to innocence and immunity from the sexual perversions of adults.”
Ben Bradshaw, a veteran Labour MP, voiced his opposition to the proposed legislation, stating that he had not intended to speak but was “appalled by the bill’s contents.” Bradshaw emphasised that it was important to send a clear message from parliament that the bill does not reflect their views, particularly regarding young LGBT people and their families. According to Bradshaw, Bridgen’s bill would “turn the clock back to an age in which the very existence of trans and non-binary people… was simply not acknowledged.” He argued that it would force young people to continue living in the gender assigned at birth, even when they have the support of their parents to transition and live in their chosen gender. Bradshaw highlighted the impossible choices parents would face, resulting in negative and often devastating impacts on their child’s mental health.
Bradshaw referred to safeguarding advice by the NSPCC, cautioning against outing LGBTQ+ youngsters to their families, and cited data from The Albert Kennedy Trust regarding the increasing number of referrals for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. He labelled Bridgen a “conspiracy theorist” who is “too right-wing even for today’s Conservative Party.” Bradshaw concluded that the bill was not about the welfare of young people or the smooth running of schools but rather a cynical attempt to stoke culture wars at the expense of vulnerable minorities and their families, deeming it “despicable.”
In a rare move, a group of MPs forced a vote to block the introduction of the bill. The vote resulted in 34 MPs in favour of the proposal and 40 against it. Among those who rejected the bill were ten Conservatives and 25 Labour MPs. Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, voted against the bill and expressed her opposition on Twitter, characterizing the legislation as an attempt to test the appetite for a “hateful culture war.” She expressed her pride in standing with colleagues from all sides in voting against the bill.
Conservative MP Paul Holmes faced accusations of supporting harmful practices against children after voting against the bill. Holmes strongly refuted these claims, dismissing them as baseless. He urged people to read the contents of Bridgen’s speech in its entirety and not rely on misleading tweets. Holmes emphasized that he would never vote to mutilate or groom children.
Labour MP Nadia Whittome also took to Twitter to voice her opposition to the bill, stating that it put trans pupils in danger. She voted against the bill and expressed her satisfaction in its defeat.
Mick Whitley, a Labour MP, likened the proposed legislation to past Tory laws, stating that it would put young trans people at real risk of harm. He called for united opposition against a new Section 28.
Ten-minute rule bills serve as a platform for backbench MPs to present their case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes. These bills can gauge political interest in specific legislation or topics.