SCHOOLCHILDREN are being asked to define their gender by a list of more than 20 different terms.

Pupils at Blatchington Mill School in Brighton were given the survey as homework and asked to choose from a list of 23 terms to say how they would describe their sex.

As well as girl and boy, the list includes a catalogue of other labels - including "non-binary", "demi-boy" and "gender fluid".

Parents have described the survey as "unnecessary" and "confusing" to teenagers going through some of the most difficult years of their lives.

However trans campaigners suggested offering children struggling with their gender the opportunity to put a name to their feelings could help them overcome some of the difficulties.

The question was part of a national survey from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and sent to every school in Brighton and Hove.

Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield OBE who released the survey said: "We want to know how gender matters to young people: what does gender mean to them; how does it affect their lives; what do they want to change?

"To explore these important questions, we have constructed a survey, and hope to hear from as many young people (13-18 years old) as possible."

The survey says that children's answers "may be used in Government reports, presentations and publications."

The report stipulates that children under 16 years old should "check whether your parents/carers are happy for you to complete this survey".

However parents of Blatchington Mill pupils said the school had not sought their permission before setting the task.

The school says they were not told it should seek parental permission.

Blatchington Mill head teacher Ashley Harrold said: "We’re incredibly passionate about ensuring that every student feels safe and welcome at our school. When it comes to gender identity it is a real and valid concern for a number of students.

"For us, anything that prevents students feeling happy, from feeling confident in themselves and from feeling accepted by their peers is something we feel the curriculum should address.

"Raising students awareness of the wider spectrum of gender identity is important in building an inclusive and tolerant society."

The Argus:

Brighton and Hove City Council said it had forwarded the survey to secondary school at the request of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

A council spokesman said: "The survey is designed to explore young people's experiences of gender.

"We think the findings from this survey will be useful in our work helping all our children and young people feel good about themselves, achieve their potential and challenge gender stereotyping and sexism.

"Blatchington Mill has a well-deserved national reputation as a beacon of best practice for the work it does on LGBT related issues as part of its personal, social and health education curriculum.

"We want all our young people to feel comfortable with who they are, to understand that the notion of gender can go beyond the traditional idea of simply being either male and female, and to recognise that people can use a range of terms to describe their gender identity."

IT’S IMPORTANT CHILDREN SUFFERING GENDER DYSPHORIA ARE SUPPORTED

The Argus:

By Sophie Cook 
Transgender photographer and activist

I THINK it is really important that young people are given the opportunity to express themselves.

Society can still be very harsh.

I knew from age seven I was transgender, but because there was no information out there I had no idea what was going on so I attempted suicide aged 12.

I think it is good for children to be given the opportunity to discuss things openly and honestly.

It is so important that children who are going through gender dysphoria are given all the support they can get.

The teenage years are terrible for all of us, but if you are battling gender dysphoria as well you can feel so isolated and alone and confused.

I really think it could help young people who are going through this to be given a list of terms that they may find relate to what they are going through.

It is important that the support is out there, but it also important what is done with that information.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT DEMI-BOY, TRI-GENDER OR GENDER FLUID MEAN?

The Argus: Katy Rice

By Katy Rice
Argus columnist

WHY does it worry me as a mother that schools are asking teenagers aged 14 and 15 to identify their gender by giving them multiple bizarre choices?

Those choices include terms I’ve never heard of: do you know what a demi-boy is? Or tri-gender? Gender fluid? Agender? Non-binary? Intersex? No, me neither.

As a middle-aged woman (and I definitely tick the plain boring ‘woman’ box, by the way), I’m confused by all of these terms and this is just a small selection of those on a questionnaire for pupils to complete for homework at Brighton and Hove schools.

So what on earth does this do to teenagers, in the throes of discovering their sexuality for the first time? 

The majority of teenagers should feel secure in the knowledge that they are simply boy or girl, but by pandering to a minority with gender issues, schools are introducing confusion and insecurity, unnecessarily making all teenagers question their basic identity. 

Surely it’s parents who should be dealing with their children’s sexuality, not schools.