The attacks on trans people remind me of the homophobia I saw growing up in the Eighties and Nineties. Bigotry should never have been acceptable then, and it certainly should not be acceptable now.
So as Shadow Secretary of State for Education, I want to make our support clear for trans people in education and to let them know that Labour will promote equality and fight bigotry in all its forms.
As a society, we urgently need to work on how we can look out for and support trans people, rather than trivialise and even jeopardise their lives.
This month, the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded that transgender and gender-questioning students are being failed. Earlier this year, Stonewall found that that 64% of trans pupils are bullied at school, with a terrible impact on their health - 84% have self-harmed and two in five have tried to take their own life.
This is in an school environment where trans pupils often feel as if staff are not familiar with the issues they face, and one in three report that they are not able to be known by their preferred name at school.
Mermaids, the only nationwide UK charity supporting transgender young people, has warned that some families of those suffering transphobic bullying are turning to home schooling as a solution. This is not sustainable, especially for low-income families, and the idea that the treatment of trans pupils is so bad that they feel there is no option left but leaving school is simply unacceptable.
The attacks on trans people remind me of the homophobia I saw growing up... Bigotry should never have been acceptable then, and it certainly should not be acceptable now
No one should be denied an education because of who they are. Individuals suffer terribly but society as a whole is also worse off when this is the result.
A report by the Women and Equalities Committee last year found that high levels of transphobia are experienced by individuals on a daily basis, and they have to fight to receive the bare minimum of medical support in a frequently hostile culture.
It’s painfully clear that support for the trans community is long overdue and that education must play its part. Labour’s National Education Service aims to serve all, and a robust anti-bullying agenda will be at the heart of education policy.
The Government have recently indicated that they will have a wide-ranging consultation on Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education. It’s vital that they listen to everyone, including the voices of young trans people are included in this consultation as well as the LGBT+ community as a whole.
Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) hasn’t been updated since 2000 (before the repeal of the anti-LGBT Section 28) and it too is an opportunity to ensure that the needs and experiences of LGBT+ young people, including trans young people, are met.
It’s important that all teachers receive initial and on-going training on the issues LGBT+ pupils face, and how to address them. So with the Budget just round the corner, the Chancellor must also ensure that RSE and PSHE are properly funded and resourced.
This month alone has shown the vital need to educate people about trans issues. It really breaks my heart that young people are experiencing such distress. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, let’s commit to changing that.
Angela Rayner is the shadow education secretary and Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne