Transgender Wigan pupil 'forced to wear blouse' to school, LGBT campaigner says

Wigan teen's plight revealed by LGBT campaigner
Wigan teen's plight revealed by LGBT campaigner

A trans teenager is being ‘forced to wear a blouse and pinafore’ at a Wigan school promoting LGBT awareness, it has been claimed.

Carl Austin-Behan, who is the LGBT advisor to Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, met the pupil while visiting the borough on Thursday.

The former Lord Mayor of Manchester said on Twitter that the youngster is stopped from wearing a shirt and trousers despite his school having an LGBT networking group.

"I met a young trans lad this evening who’s forced to wear a blouse & pinafore for school as the school won’t allow him to wear a shirt and trousers -yet the school has an LGBT School Network Group and promotes #LGBT Awareness – I will be asking questions @MayorofGM @WiganCouncil" Mr Austin-Behan tweeted.

Wigan council says it has been ‘reassured’ by the school that staff are ‘very supportive’ of pupil choices.

But Mr Austin-Behan, who was Manchester’s first openly gay mayor, argued against ‘strict’ binary uniform policies within schools.

Carl with GM Mayor Andy Burnham

Carl with GM Mayor Andy Burnham

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said: “I just don’t think there’s a place for them in this day and age.

“For people who might be trans or non-binary they want to feel that they can be comfortable within their gender identity, and I think schools need to be more understanding of this.

“They might have real difficulties having to dress in something that doesn’t feel appropriate for them and that might impact on their mental health.”

Mr Austin-Behan felt it was important to use his profile on social media to raise the issue with a wider audience.

And with LGBT youth at a higher risk of committing suicide, he said it was time for local authorities and schools to work even harder to provide the necessary support.

“I think because so many young people who are coming out or self identifying as trans or non binary schools need to up their game a little bit,” said Mr Austin-Behan.

“LGBT networks in schools make a massive difference to their health and wellbeing.

“We’ve got Relationships and Sex Education coming into schools from September 2020 so we have to make sure that teachers, as well as pupils, are educated on the issue.”

James Winterbottom, director of children’s services at Wigan council, said: “We’ve spoken to the school and have been reassured they are very supportive of all pupils’ choices and will be reassuring the pupil of this.”