A church report which said boys at faith schools across South Yorkshire should be allowed to wear tutus, tiaras and heels if they want to has sparked a mixed reaction from readers.
The Church of England report entitled 'Valuing All God’s Children', sets out 12 recommendations for how teachers can challenge transphobic and homophobic bullying and has been produced after a growing trend nationally in the number of children coming forward to express doubt about their assigned gender.
The document, which has been sent to 40 C of E primary and secondary schools across South Yorkshire attended by more than 8000 pupils, said: "A child may choose the tutu, princess’s tiara and heels and/or the firefighter’s helmet, tool belt and superhero cloak without expectation or comment. Childhood has a sacred space for creative self-imagining."
The church acknowledges that this is a "sensitive topic" and it has split opinion among charities, religious groups and other organisations.
Readers have now weighed in on the issue which sparked fierce debate on Facebook.
Stephen Blower was in support of the report and said: "It's common sense, let kids play how and with whatever they like without being shamed."
James Harkness agreed: "About time, welcome intervention. Glad to see church sanding up for children not bigots."
Mark Wilde said: "Children should wear whatever they want to wear it's all about growing up."
But Ross Millar said: "I doubt any responsible parent would let their boy go to school in a dress and heels, it will just be a magnet for bullying."
Huw Thomas, director for education in the Diocese of Sheffield and former headteacher at faith school Emmaus Primary in Wybourn, yesterday defended the document as promoting the right anti-bullying message.
He said: "This is anti-bullying week and this report sounds a significant voice against bullying. I fail to see how anyone could oppose this."
The document urges pupils to refrain from using terms such as ‘tranny’,‘it’ or‘he-she’ and advises that teachers should "avoid labels and assumptions which deem children’s behaviour irregular, abnormal or problematic just because it does not conform to gender stereotypes or today’s play preferences."
The recommendations include giving extra training to teachers to help them deal with 'homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying' among students.
Relationships and sex education should also take LGBT people into account more, the report adds.