Primary school pupils to be told ‘boys can have periods too’ in new sex education guidelines to promote gender inclusivity
The council claims it is important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together
As a part of a new sex education guidance that has been approved by the Brighton Council to reportedly promote gender inclusivity and tackle the stigma surrounding menstruation, primary school teachers will be advised to tell their pupils that boys can have periods too.
The report, whose primary purpose was to implement a policy that aims to reduce and counter "period poverty" by distributing free period products to schools, aims to "reduce stigma and shame related to periods and provide education on puberty and changes within the body" stated it was "important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together."
The policy will necessitate that all pupils and students from year 4 (i.e. from the age of 8) "receive age and development-appropriate period education within a planned programme of relationships and sex education," though that was the least controversial suggestion in the report.
The report stated that "Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods" adding "menstruation must be inclusive of all genders." Another line ordered that schools have bins for used period products provided in all toilets for children and that trans pupils and students should be provided with additional support from a school nurse if necessary.
These guidelines on how to tackle period poverty come just a few months after the Brighton & Hove City Council released a Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit that they hoped would go some way towards "supporting trans, non-binary, and gender-questioning children and young people in Brighton & Hove educational settings."
First distributed in 2014, the toolkit stated it aimed at "creating safe, trans-inclusive learning environments" that would "reduce and prevent harm to trans and non-binary children and young people" and "be of benefit to all genders as gender stereotyping, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are challenged."
As a way of achieving these changes, the toolkit advised teachers to be responsive to the needs of all non-binary and trans children and reminded them that intentionally not using a person's preferred name or pronoun can constitute harassment. It also recommended non-gendered uniforms so children would be supportive of all students, regardless of gender.
Just like that toolkit, the most recent policy change by the Brighton council has not gone down well in certain quarters. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Tory MP David Davies said teachers explaining the concept of transgender boys having periods to eight-year-olds was "insanity."
"Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused," he was quoted saying.
A spokesperson from campaign group Transgender Trend was similarly unhappy with the announcement, stating, "Girls going through puberty are already having a difficult time. What they should be given is clear language to be able to talk about their bodies and their female biological functions without couching it in politically correct terms."
However, the council insisted in a new statement that the change would prove beneficial. "By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty, we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them," it read. "‘We believe that it’s important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together… Our approach recognizes the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary."