For Nigel and Sally Rowe, parents of two young boys, fighting against the promotion of transgender ideologies in schools is much more than just protecting their own children; it’s also a matter of faith.
One day six years ago, in the classroom of a Church of England school, a 6-year-old boy decided he wanted to identify and dress as a girl, and that teachers and students alike should treat him as a girl without question. The boy was in the same class as one of the Rowes’ sons.
The same scenario had happened with their eldest son years prior.
In both cases, their children came home full of questions: “Is it OK for a man and a man to be married?” “Can boys become girls?” “Can girls become boys?”
The parents felt that these questions were far too complex for a 6-year-old child to understand. They were shocked.
Then they began to notice a change in their son’s behavior.
“Our son started showing signs of stress such as not wanting to come into school, coming home really angry—it was unlike him. We think the main reason was because he felt confused and conflicted. Everything he was being taught at school conflicted with the Bible-based teaching he would get at home,” Sally explained.
It became apparent to the Rowes that at their son’s Christian school, not only were children not receiving Biblical teaching, the school was promoting transgender ideology.
This approach from schools has resulted from the implementation of the Cornwall Schools Transgender Guidelines, published in 2015 and written by LGBTQ activists. The guidelines aim to embed transgender ideology into every state school, from primary schools to universities. It encourages the use of gender-neutral toilets and teaching children at an early age to affirm transgenderism and cross-dressing.
The guidelines were upheld by local authorities and the Department for Education in 2018 and are quickly becoming ingrained in every educational institution in the United Kingdom.
When the Rowes raised their concern, they were told to either affirm transgenderism or be labeled transphobic. Also in 2017, the head teacher of the Church of England primary school told the Rowes that “if a child wants to [identify as the opposite sex], then we just have to accept it.” She added that she could lose her job if she did not follow the guidelines.
As Bible-believing Christians, the Rowes could not affirm transgenderism, believing it to be harmful. They felt forced to leave the school.
The couple, from the Isle of Wight, were shunned within their community, including their own church, for speaking out against the pro-LGBTQ guidelines. “We also couldn’t put our children into other schools—no one would take us, anyway. We became very unpopular,” Nigel said. “We believe there were other parents who felt the same but were too scared to say anything. If you go against the system, you’ll be pushed out or persecuted. That’s what happened to us.”
The Rowes have been homeschooling their children for the past four years. They say it has been “a sacrifice but a blessing” for the family.
They contacted the Church of England’s chief education officer, who defended the LGBTQ guidelines on the basis that it tackled “transphobic behavior.”
The school’s hands were tied, and the Church of England showed no support. But the Rowes felt a deep conviction to not only protect their own children, but the thousands of others across the country. “That’s when we thought, we need to seek legal advice about this because they’re not thinking of the children,” Sally said.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Sally and Nigel are pursuing a judicial review over the Department for Education’s refusal to intervene in their case.
The Rowes have been working with experts to report on the harmful impact of transgender-affirming policies on young children.
One expert reported that the guidelines showed “little or no appreciation for the safety and welfare of children and adolescents or their developmental needs. The approach of the guidance was ‘as if’ the children were fully mature adults.” The report added that 88% of those who experience gender dysphoria as children grow out of it post-puberty.
The couple believes it is their duty as Christians to never remain silent when exposing darkness, referring to Ephesians 5:11, and upholding the Bible in a world that wants to push the LGBTQ narrative on children.
“As Christians we are called to stand for the truth,” Nigel explains. “If we don’t, how will the world know? The only way we can stop this taking over our schools is to challenge them.”
He believes it is child abuse to risk children being indoctrinated by an ideology that has been proven to cause young children harm. “It’s immoral to do this to them,” he added. “The only way is to challenge the government, and that’s why we’re taking this to high court.”
Sally echoed: “If you don’t go God’s way, you will bring hurt.”
The Rowes are determined to fight this battle in the Name of Christ. With or without the support of the Church of England, they want to be salt and light regardless of the persecution they have endured. For Nigel and Sally, “To love is to warn, and this is part of preaching the Gospel.”
Aside from hoping to see the Church of England unite in truth for the Gospel, there is one outcome that the Rowes aim to see. “I hope to see the whole transgender ideology be completely removed from the education system,” Nigel said.
Claisse Opulencia is junior communications officer for the London, England, office of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Photo: Courtesy of Christian Concern