Published: 12:00, 14 October 2016
A Maidstone school has apologised after sending a transgender pupil home for wearing the wrong uniform and preventing her from using the girls’ toilets and changing rooms.
Brave Lily Madigan, formerly Liam, came out in the new year.
The 18-year-old turned up for the first time at St Simon Stock Catholic School dressed in girls’ attire.
She said: “I decided to come in dressed in the girls’ dress code, which basically meant I was wearing a top instead of a shirt.
“It made me feel so happy, until I was sent home.”
Ms Madigan, who is from Chatham, was also told she could not use girls’ bathrooms or changing rooms.
She launched a petition calling on the Oakwood Park school to change its approach to transgender students, which gathered more than 200 signatures.
Frustrated at a lack of change, the aspiring fashion student even hired a solicitor who asked the school to fall in line with legislation.
Transgender individuals are protected from discrimination under the Equality Duty provisions enshrined in the 2010 Equality Act.
"I'm not incredibly encouraged about the school's attitude to equality" - Lily Madigan
People who identify as trans do not have to be undergoing a medical procedure to change their sex but must be taking steps to live in the opposite gender or propose to do so.
The school agreed to the requests, which now allow Lily to wear female dress code and use the ladies’ toilets and changing rooms.
Training for staff on transgender matters was also set to be introduced and Lily was sent a formal letter of apology.
She said: “I am very happy about the changes but I felt it was something I shouldn’t have had to fight so hard for, if at all.
“I’m encouraged in the sense that I’ve seen what I’m capable of achieving and I’m very proud, but I’m not incredibly encouraged about the school’s attitude to equality in the first place.”
The school said Lily was sent home because her top did not conform to the professional standard set out in the academy’s uniform guidelines, rather then her choice of female clothing.
A spokesman for the academy said: “As a school we value highly the views of all our students, and we take all points of view into account as we develop as a school.
"Transgender is an important issue for us as for schools up and down the country.
"As an inclusive, Catholic academy, we are confident that the attention we have given to transgender, including carefully listening to students, has been invaluable in us going even further to make sure all students are happy and comfortable, so that they can be as successful as possible.”