The government has confirmed it will miss its own deadline for providing schools with guidance on transgender pupils.
In a major embarrassment for Rishi Sunak, education secretary Gillian Keegan, announced on Thursday that she had “made the decision to allow more time” for her to speak to teachers, parents and lawyers before finalising her plans.
It followed reports ministers had been told their plans to ban pupils from socially transitioning would breach equality law.
Sunak had previously said the guidance would be released before the summer holidays.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said until it was published schools should proceed with “extreme caution”.
“It a complex and sensitive issue which affects the wellbeing of our children, it is important to get right,” they said.
According to The Times, a draft document initially recommended pupils be allowed to socially transition with the consent of their parents.
It would have meant allowing trans pupils to choose a name, pronoun and uniform.
But No.10 and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch are reported to have pushed for even stricter guidance that would ban even this.
But Victoria Prentis, the attorney general, warned that could be unlawful, leading to the latest delay.
In a written statement to parliament, Keegan told schools: “They should always involve parents in decisions relating to their child, and should not agree to any changes that they are not absolutely confident are in the best interests of that child and their peers.
“These decisions must not be taken lightly or in haste.
She added: “It is vital that the guidance we publish gives clarity for schools and colleges and reassurance for parents.
“We have made the decision to allow more time – to speak to teachers, parents, lawyers and other stakeholders – in order to ensure this guidance meets the high expectations that these groups rightly have for it.”
Confirmation of the delay came on the last day of the parliamentary term before the summer recess.
The government has also yet to publish its long-promised draft bill due which would ban so-called conversion therapy, the practise of trying to change a. person’s sexuality or gender identity.