Daily Mail article: Worried mothers told me I had to act to protect women and girls from an increasingly divisive woke agenda

This article was first published in the Daily Mail

Recently, I was in a café in my South West Norfolk constituency, talking with local people about my plans to introduce a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons on the issue of single-sex spaces.

A group of mums from the local secondary school called out from across the room. They told me I must(itals) go ahead and address this vital issue.

Every day, their daughters were facing the shock and embarrassment of boys using their toilets – which had once been their own safe space.

Teenage boys had been taking photos of girls over the tops of the cubicles – and the school hadn’t dealt with it.

I was horrified. Those girls’ freedom and security were being endangered as a consequence of an extreme ‘woke’ ideology, which prioritises the gender a person proclaims themselves to be – often in the absence of all common sense – and which had allowed those boys to take advantage.

It made me determined to champion the girls’ cause.

I want to live in a country where our children can grow up confident and secure at school; where they can develop the skills and wisdom to navigate adult life.

Yet an increasingly divisive agenda, with very little public support, has been dictating what is happening to our teenagers. As Women and Equalities Minister, I stopped plans for gender ‘self-identification’, ensuring that adults could not legally transition without appropriate medical certification.

But it has become clear the law still does not provide sufficient protection for women and girls on this crucial question.

That is why my bill is so badly needed.

It is deeply unfair to expect teachers to arbitrate the kind of disputes that might arise when a boy tries to use a girl’s changing room. Our educators are under considerable pressures from activists to give in to any demands.

We know, too, that young people face huge peer pressure on social media. We know that parents, desperate to do their best for their children, can be afraid to speak out.

Over two-thirds of us do not believe that just because a biological male says he is a woman, he should be able to access female-only spaces. This should not be controversial, yet too few people are prepared to say it openly.

As a result, we continue to see the erosion of female-only changing rooms, toilets, hospital wards and sports competitions – as well as prisons and refuges.

Meanwhile, some estimates suggest that up to 65,000 children are now presenting as the opposite gender when at school, in some cases without their parents even knowing.

A growing number of young people who have used puberty-blockers or cross-sex hormones to begin transitioning have realised they have made a tragic mistake.

When they are old enough to make an informed choice about undergoing these life-changing procedures, that is their decision. But protecting children should be paramount and I make no apology for seeking to ensure that vulnerable youngsters are not led down a path they may bitterly regret.

So called ‘social transitioning’ – where people live as the opposite sex without taking drugs or having surgery – may seem less harmful. But the independent Cass review of Britain’s gender-identity services is clear that it is not a ‘neutral act’ and can put young people on a path to medical intervention.

This is why I am presenting the Health and Equality Acts (Amendment) Bill to Parliament today (Wed).

It will protect single-sex spaces by amending the Equality Act to clarify that the protections it affords to ‘sex’ unambiguously refer to biological sex. This will ensure that toilets and changing rooms are separated by sex in schools and other public facilities.

Much-needed clarity will be given to teachers, parents and children by banning formal recognition of social transitioning in schools and by the state for under-18s.

Finally, it will prevent under-18s from seeking to change their gender by using puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones.

Passing my bill into law would be a significant victory for common sense, for the safety and wellbeing of children and for the rights of women.

I hope my parliamentary colleagues and Daily Mail readers alike will support it.

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