Rosie Duffield has so many complaints about her transphobia that Labour allegedly has an email folder dedicated to her alone. With staffers reportedly instructed not to touch it, and Duffield working with Policy Exchange, questions need to be asked (and answered) about the Policy Exchange’s influence on Starmer and co.

Given Keir Starmer’s Terfy stance on trans rights that we’ve seen with his recent comments, Rosie Duffield’s transphobia being allowed to go unchallenged is understandable.

Transphobia is welcome in the Labour Party, heck, you could even go so far as to say it is encouraged these days. 

So, it came as no surprise to see Duffield involved with the co-ordinated release of Policy Exchange’s, the right-wing think tank, latest nonsense about trans kids. 

Duffield clearly had a heads up, which would, in normal times, have people asking why a right-wing outlet is working so closely with a so-called Labour MP, but that is not the main reason I am writing this. 

Instead, I’m going to look at the article Duffield wrote for the right-wing Times as part of a release of the Policy Exchange’s ‘report’ that saw it on the front page of the Times, Mail, and Telegraph as well as being covered by the BBC and LBC. 

Parents kept in dark over gender Four in ten schools failing to inform families when pupils question — or change — identity, report finds Nicola Woolcock - Education Editor Schools are routinely allowing children to switch gender and not telling their parents in a “mass breach” of safeguarding, according to research published today. The report condemned schools for uncritically accepting contested beliefs on gender identity and said the practice of affirming “gender distress” had become embedded. Schools were neglecting safeguarding by adopting affirmative practices when confronted with children who were questioning or were confused by theirgender identity, the Policy Exchange publication said. It suggested that some schools risked breaching laws by failing to offer singlesex toilets or by allowing organisations involved in political campaigning to provide relationship and sex education lesson resources. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said head teachers were trying to teach children sensitively in a “minefield of strongly held and opposing views” without guidance from the government, despite requesting support. Forty per cent of the 150 secondary schools in England that answered the right-of-centre think tank’s freedom of information requests let pupils change gender without parental consent, the study found. It added that schools were “effectively facilitating medical interventions on site” by supporting pupils in their desired identity. The former education secretaries Nadhim Zahawi and Baroness Morris of Yardley and the chairman of the Commons’ education select committee, Robin Walker, have backed the report. The Labour MP Rosie Duffield said there was “systemic failure” caused by an ill-considered embrace of gender ideology and that children were paying the price for a “reckless experiment”. The report, Asleep at the Wheel, found that only 28 per cent of schools were “reliably informing” parents as soon as a child disclosed feelings of gender distress and that 33 per cent would not necessarily inform the designated safeguarding lead at school — instead some contacted the staff responsible for LGBT matters. Forty per cent of schools operated policies of gender self-identification and 69 per cent of schools required other children to affirm the pupil’s new identity. Some schools were mistakenly using the Equality Act or data protection rules to justify not telling families. Among the report’s recommendations were that parents should automatically be told when a child disclosed feelings of gender distress at school, unless there was a compelling reason not to. It also said no school should facilitate a child’s social transition to the opposite gender unless backed by medical advice. The Department for Education said: “The education secretary is working closely with the minister for women and equalities to produce guidance for schools.”
The Times front page 30 March 2023
Children need to be protected from this reckless experiment Comment Rosie Duffield It is universally accepted that safeguarding is fundamental to a responsible society. These principles are enshrined in law and applicable to all organisations and functions relating to children. There is never a good reason why safeguarding should be compromised, especially in school, where children spend the majority of their time outside home. Policy Exchange’s report demonstrates that there is a mass breaching of safeguarding principles when it comes to gender-distressed children and their peers. The rising number of such children, and their treatment in clinical settings, is being given the attention it deserves. In an NHS-commissioned independent review, Dr Hilary Cass found the Tavistock gender clinic in London to be adopting an “unquestioning, affirmative approach” without exploring other factors causing these children’s distress. Affirmation as a one-size-fits-all solution has been discredited and the clinic is being shut down. However, Policy Exchange has revealed that the same approach is being facilitated in schools, which breaks every safeguarding rule. Schools have no authority to decide whether social transition is the right outcome for a gender-distressed child. Safeguarding principles are there to protect both children and staff: they protect teachers from being illequipped to deal with issues that require external specialisms, and ensure children receive appropriate service provision as soon as possible. Gender identity beliefs are contested and based on unscientific notions, yet this report shows they are being taught in relationships, sex and health education classes as though they are facts. Times readers will be all too familiar with reports of this. Schools seem unaware of their obligations to be politically impartial. Encouraging children to believe that their transient ideas about themselves are more determinative of their identity than their chromosomal DNA is not just misleading, but dangerous too. This vital report demonstrates there to be a fundamental incompatibility between affirmative practice and the safeguarding principles schools are required to uphold. It is time for the government to clamp down on the systemic failure of the school system to protect children from this reckless experiment. Rosie Duffield is MP for Canterbury and co-patron of Policy Exchange’s Biology Matters project
Rosie Duffield, The Times, 30 March 2023

This piece, as you can imagine, has many issues. 


Duffield’s article assumes that affirmation as a one-size-fits-all solution has been discredited, and that gender identity beliefs are unscientific and contested. This certainly does not represent the views of experts and professionals in the field, who would argue, correctly, that gender identity is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires nuanced understanding and care. 

Lack of balance 

Her piece heavily criticises the approach of schools towards gender-distressed children, without providing alternative perspectives or considering the challenges schools may face in addressing these issues. It does not acknowledge that schools are trying to support and protect the well-being of students in a sensitive and caring manner. 


Duffield’s article suggests that Policy Exchange’s report demonstrates a mass breaching of safeguarding principles in schools. However, it does not provide sufficient context or information to support this claim. Individual cases are often not representative of all schools or their approaches to handling gender identity issues. 


The term “reckless experiment” in the headline implies that schools are actively experimenting with children’s lives, which is not an accurate representation of their intentions nor of the established history of trans care. This language seems to have one goal – to fuel unnecessary fear and misunderstanding among readers. 

Conflict of interest 

Rosie Duffield is the co-patron of Policy Exchange’s Biology Matters project, which indicates a clear bias in her perspective on this issue.  

Who are the Policy Exchange?

Policy Exchange is a right-wing UK-based think tank that focuses on public policy research and analysis. Established in 2002, it is situated close to 55 Tufton Street in London where the LGB Alliance are based and PE has numerous connections

Policy Exchange covers a wide range of topics, including economics, education, energy, environment, health, housing, and security.

It seeks to influence public policy by providing what they claim is ‘evidence-based research’ and engaging with policymakers and stakeholders. It has worked closely with the Conservative Party throughout their time in government, often influencing policy directly. 

Labour and Policy Exchange

Since being elected leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has not only abandoned many of the pledges he made in order to win the vote, he has taken a stance in complete opposition to many of them.

As the Tories rage about ‘the small boats’ for instance, Starmer has joined in. Wherever a Tory policy appears, Labour are not far behind mimicking it.

Given that the likes of Duffield are clearly in bed with the Policy Exchange, who else at Labour is working to further their right-wing agenda?

Is this the reason behind Starmer’s flip flops?

These are questions people – namely journalists – should be trying to answer.

Alas, few, if any, seem to be even asking them.