Beware trans ideas in sheep’s clothing

Scottish schoolchildren are being told that a wolf really can self-identify as a sheep.

Jo Bartosch

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Four- and five-year-olds in Scotland are now being taught that some sheep growl. This message was delivered in award-winning author Morag Hood’s Brenda is a Sheep, a brightly illustrated book being given to Primary One (reception class) schoolchildren courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust, and conveniently in time for Transgender Week of Visibility.

The story centres on Brenda, a wolf who identifies as a sheep. With grey fur and pointy teeth, Brenda has some problems fitting in. Readers are invited to wonder if Brenda might have nefarious motives for wanting to get into the sheep pen, particularly when she starts perfecting her mint-sauce recipe.

Described by publishers Pan MacMillan as a ‘mischievous and hilarious story about being accepted’, by the end of the book Brenda is welcomed into the warm and woolly ovine community and they all live happily ever after.

The political motive is about as clear as the claws on Little Red Ridinghood’s grandmother. It is a book about how it is wrong to be suspicious of men who identify as transgender women and demand access to women’s spaces. The book teaches children not to trust their instincts, nor to question the motives that people might have for pretending to be something they are clearly not.

Tracy Shaw, a spokeswoman for Safe Schools Alliance UK – which is dedicated to ensuring schools are safe and inclusive for all – explained why SSA has concerns over the book:

‘Children need to be encouraged to trust their instincts about people and situations and feel supported to express them. People who prey on children will use all kinds of strategies to get close to them. This book blatantly encourages children to question their boundaries under the guise of being kind and inclusive. This book has safeguarding red flags all over it and leaves children more susceptible to grooming, not less.’

Were it not for the fact that the woke tend to lack a sense of humour, it would be tempting to imagine the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ being used to highlight the potential problems of allowing people to ‘self-identify’ their sex. But a glowing review of Brenda is a Sheep by the Guardian and a nomination for the Bookbug Picture Prize make this charitable reading seem unlikely.

Schools in Scotland have become the ground zero for the rolling-out of questionable teaching on gender. Earlier this year SNP MP Mhairi Black accompanied Nathan Mullen, a drag queen who performs under the name ‘FlowJob’, to Glencoats primary school in Scotland. When it was revealed that Mullen had extreme and explicit adult content on his Twitter account there was a slew of complaints. Black dismissed those who questioned the educational benefit of inviting a drag queen with a pornographic social-media feed into a primary school as being motivated by homophobia.

Over the past few years, grassroots groups have sprung up to push back against the introduction of gender ideology in Scottish classrooms. Analysis from 2019 by the campaign group Women and Girls in Scotland (WGiS) identified the Scottish government-backed Supporting Transgender Young People: Guidance for Schools in Scotland as potentially breaching 15 articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. From sports to toilets and changing rooms, WGiS claims that ‘the guidance sets up a conflict of interest, particularly between male-bodied transgender young people and girls’. Similarly, after the group For Women Scotland (FWS) highlighted a national resource for four- and five year-olds that taught children it was up to them to ‘decide if they are a boy or a girl’, FWS blazed:

‘On what basis, do we suppose, very young children will make this decision other than a preference for certain gendered behaviours, dress or activities? In effect, this reinforces rigid ideas of masculine and feminine traits and encourages the belief that if a child fails to conform they are somehow not a “real” boy or girl. Ironically, it would seem, the standard taunt of playground bullies is now being given official sanction in the curriculum.’

In England, following a September announcement by women and equalities minister Liz Truss, the Department for Education issued guidance explicitly warning schools against the dangers of using external experts who teach children it is possible to be ‘born in the wrong body’. But this guidance does not apply to Scotland. And given the drift toward Scottish independence, it seems unlikely that Holyrood will rush to follow English advice anyway.

But there is a very good reason women and girls might be suspicious of men who seek to enter female-only spaces. As Ministry of Justice figures from 2017 show, 98 per cent of those convicted of sexual offences, 92 per cent of those convicted of carrying weapons and 88 per cent of those convicted of violence against the person are men. In other words, it is a fact that men pose more of a risk to women than vice versa. Furthermore, there is considerable evidence to suggest that there is a link between male patterns of sexual offending and the desire to identify as a woman. Statistics compiled by campaign group Fair Play for Women and reported in The Sunday Times revealed that in 2018 nearly half of inmates in UK prisons who identified as ‘transgender women’ had been convicted of sexual offences. In short, for many men transgenderism is a fetish.

While it might be easy to laugh off Brenda is a Sheep as just another piece of woke propaganda, it should concern us all that the children brought up believing Brenda is a sheep will be left vulnerable to the wolf’s bite. To borrow a phrase from conspiracy theorists, sheeple need to wake up to this wolfish ideology in equality’s clothing.

Jo Bartosch is a journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

Picture by: Getty.

Correction: The original version of this article attributed a quote to WGiS instead of FWS.

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