A question asking elementary school children if they feel "comfortable with their gender" and encouraging them to identify their "actual gender" has been removed from an NHS survey amid backlash from parents.
The questionnaire handed out to students in the UK asked them, "Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female)." The students, some as young as ten, were asked to then mark a box to fill in their actual gender, where they were given the choice between "girl," "boy," and "other."
Parents were reportedly told that the survey helped healthcare workers and teachers develop "better ways to understand and support" children who could be struggling with their identity, according to The Telegraph.
However, the questions were later scrapped by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust after parents and MPs warned that the survey would only confuse children.
"I got a letter from NHS Lancashire telling me that all year 6 children will be required to fill out a health questionnaire in school to help them better understand the needs of children in the area," said parent Claire Beverley.
"Now, that doesn't sound too bad does it? But when I followed the link to the questionnaire I was really shocked at the type of questions they are asking, bearing in mind that these are still only 10 and 11 year old children."
Michael Beverley said, "Asking a 10-11 year old to clearly explain themselves on paper in a format they'll mostly associate with 'testing' can't possibly yield useful results. The government should be spending the money/energy on encouraging and educating teachers and parents to ask these questions."
Tory MP Tim Loughton, a former children's minister, said that the questions were "deeply worrying."
"At a time when children are growing up and having to deal with all sorts of challenges of the modern world, now they are being asked to confront their gender, which for many will be unsettling," he said. "Clearly we need to be sensitive about the issue of gender and sexual orientation but forcing children to question whether they are the right gender so early on can be deeply destabilizing."
Back in July it was revealed that the number of children being referred to gender identity clinics in the U.K. has quadrupled in the past five years, with even the youngest of children being encouraged to question their sex.
In September, Bernadette John, a director at the Good Schools Guide, told The Telegraph that for the first time ever, it will rate schools based on how "transgender-friendly" they are.
She explained that the decision was made because some parents have decided to move their children to different schools when they felt accommodations for their new gender identity were not being met.
"Over about the last 18 months or so, I have noticed this issue building up," John said. "Families are coming to us when they feel they are left with no option but to pull their transgender child out of a school."
The guide will survey headteachers on how they cater to transgender students, and examine school policies on the issue.
"It will be something that we ask in the round of questions about pastoral issues. We would certainly be asking headmasters about this," John noted.
She added that schools that have an "utterly outstanding" record on LGBTQ issues will be mentioned in the review.
"We would also share the information between us and inform all our consultants," she said.
"Some schools are making fabulous efforts. But we are still seeing issues where schools are effectively asking children to leave by saying we have no policies on toilets or uniforms, we cannot cater for you."
On its website, the Good Schools Guide claims to give parents "unbiased and candid school reviews."
"We review more than 1,100 schools, covering state and independent, boarding and day, mainstream and special sectors," notes the website. "The Good Schools Guide is independent, forthright, well-informed and unbiased, which gives it unique authority and has earned it the trust of parents and educational organisations worldwide."