A Derry mum has voiced her concern over a ‘trans’ wall display at a children’s ward in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. The display featured the controversial ‘Genderbread Person’ diagram — an ’educational tool’ which teaches children that gender is decided in the brain and is not related to anatomy, along with a poster which read ‘love has no gender’ and a list of ‘gay icons’ and ‘LGBT trailblazers’.
The young mother, who spoke to Gript on the condition of anonymity, came across the prominent wall display while attending a hospital appointment with her infant child. She says she was too afraid to say anything at the time, but said she was left shocked, angered and upset by the wall display at the children’s ward. She added that she couldn’t understand why a hospital would feel the need to promote trans ideology – particularly to children.
The young mother says the provocative display should have no place in a ward where walls should be covered with colourful pictures, and where providing care and comfort to children should be the first priority of the hospital. She says the content of the noticeboard raises serious questions.
“We were attending a check-up appointment at Altnagelvin when I saw the display,” she told Gript. She said she felt unable to ‘defend’ her child from seeing the content.
“This is not the place for this sort of display when my child is in hospital, is sick and is vulnerable; where they may be alone, and they have no one to defend them from this,” she said.
Breaking down the content of the display, she added: “You can see from the photo they’ve included ‘LGBT trailblazers’ and it talks about gender and sexuality.
“I cannot understand why the hospital would make children write out what sexual attraction is. Whenever I was that age, I didn’t know what sex was; I didn’t know what sexual attraction was, or anything to do with sex, because we were young and innocent.
”From what I’ve seen on the noticeboard, this would hurt a child. What they’re doing is actually hurting children. This whole thing is pushing gender, but the reality is that I want to teach my child that biological sex exists: male and female”.
The mum said that seeing the display has sparked a sense of fear, and the ideologically-charged content on display has undermined her confidence in the Western Trust and Altnagelvin Hospital.
“Seeing this at the hospital, I’m so afraid now,” she said.
“If my child visited that hospital, what are they going to try and teach my child when I’m not there? I don’t feel safe as a parent, I don’t feel comfortable, and quite frankly, it makes me feel scared”.
She said her opposition to the content not only stems from wanting her child to understand scientific realities, but also from her Catholic faith, and a longing to protect her child, still only an infant, from teaching that is contrary to the Christian worldview she wants to raise her child with.
“I don’t want my child being exposed to anything like this, and as a Catholic, I believe this is wrong. I can tolerate people doing what they want in their own lives – you can personally go and do whatever you want – but don’t push it on my child.
“What am I supposed to do as a parent? Because we live in the North, there aren’t really private options available and we’re under the NHS,” the disillusioned parent added.
THE CONTROVERSIAL ‘GENDERBREAD PERSON’
She believes the hospital is pushing an ideological agenda, with the inclusion of posters on the ward such as the ‘Genderbread person’ designed to influence children to the point of making them question their gender identity at a young age.
The ‘Genderbread Person’ is a model used to teach students that anatomy doesn’t determine gender. The controversial tool, which depicts a gingerbread character and teaches children that gender is decided in the brain and is not related to anatomy, has sparked contention in the UK and in the US. The gingerbread-man-style diagram conveys gender identity, sexual attraction and biological sex as sitting on a spectrum of zero to 100.
It describes anatomical sex as “male-ness” or “female-ness”, a concept firmly refuted by gender-critical academics who insist it is simply binary. The graphic describes gender identity as “how you, in your head, experience and define your gender”. For this reason, it has been described as “aggressively ideological” as well as a “groomer device”.
In the US, Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis recently called out the use of the model which is supposedly in Florida schools. He argued that the use of the diagram is ‘indoctrinating’ children into changing their gender identity. Holding up a poster of the Genderbread man back in March, he said:
“This is something that I thought wasn’t going to be around. This is in Florida and schools in other places for very young kids: the Genderbread man. This is trying to sow doubt [for] kids about their gender identity. It’s trying to say that they can be whatever they want to be. This is inappropriate for kindergarteners, and first graders and second graders. Parents do not want this going on in their schools”.
In 2020, the educational model was dropped in an Australian school after a parent complained about it being used in her 15-year-old child’s classroom. The mother said the material targeted ‘vulnerable children’ like her daughter, who later revealed she identified as a transgender boy rather than a girl. The mother attributed her son’s gender identity to ‘underlying depression’ according to The Australian.
“Gender and sex are being confused [in school] – it starts to introduce this confusion, especially with vulnerable young people like our daughter,” the mother told the publication.
“Some parents I’ve spoken to have said their children who are on the autism spectrum have been sucked into this [trans identity] – these are kids who are looking for somewhere to fit in. Other parents, their kids have had sexual abuse,” she said.
She said children like hers need support and therapy, but not drugs like testosterone used to transition.
In the UK, the Genderbread model was also used to train Civil servants, but, as recently as December, was decried by opponents as “unscientific nonsense”.
‘WE’RE TALKING ABOUT BABIES AND TODDLERS’
The mum Gript spoke to from Derry highlighted similar concerns:
“They’re pushing this agenda telling children that boys can be girls, and literally making them doubt who they are. It’s propaganda. We’re talking about babies and toddlers – there’s mums bringing their little toddlers in here. This is about pushing an ideology,” she said.
“This is to confuse, and I believe this content is very confusing for children. If these young children are left alone with any adult feeding them this, then they’re going to believe whatever the adult says.
“They’re sexualising sick and vulnerable children whose parents aren’t even there. It’s awful. How am I supposed to protect my child when this is going on in the hospital?
“Talking to three year olds about sex is not appropriate. They’re teaching subjective morality, and really, gaslighting our children – making sure that we feel forced to deny basic truths, as in, ‘Who are you to say that the sky is blue?’
“Basically, it’s sending a message to parents that we have domination over your child, and we’ll decide what your child is exposed to. I know there are a lot of other parents who wouldn’t stand for this.”
Gript reached out to comment from the Western Health and Social Care Trust, which includes Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex and the South West Acute Hospital.
We asked the Trust a range of questions, including whether it believed it was appropriate to put contested political material, such as the Genderbread Person poster, in a children’s ward, particularly when the material in question seems to be primarily directed at influencing children.
We also asked the Trust if it felt it was appropriate to put material promoting contested views of gender and sex on a children’s ward, and whether or not the Trust vetted the social media pages of the organisations it directed children to on the board, in order to ensure children were not being mislead or directed to something inappropriate.
The Trust said that the noticeboard had been ‘designed by young people’ who used its services, and insisted it had received positive feedback. The Trust did not specifically address the concerns around the Genderbread Person as an independent educational tool not produced by the children in its care. Nor did it address the idea and belief that its usage could be deemed to promote a political agenda.
A Spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said:
“We would encourage any parents with any concerns/complaints to please discuss these with the Nurse in Charge/Ward Manager. The Trust also has a comments and complaints system – the Patients’ Advocate Office which can be contacted on (028) 7161 1226. All complaints received are investigated promptly and a response issued to the person.”
The Spokesperson continued: “The Western Health and Social Care Trust has a duty of care to all persons who use our services. The Trusts Equality Scheme demonstrates how determined we are to ensure there are opportunities, for people affected by our work, to positively influence how we carry out our functions in line with our statutory duties.
“The promotion of equality of opportunity entails more than the elimination of discrimination. It requires proactive measures to be taken to facilitate the promotion of equality of opportunity between the categories identified in s75 (1). In this instance Trust staff responded directly to requests from service users and their families on the ward and sought to include information that would ensure a welcoming environment for a cohort of service users who use the service and carers/visitors/staff.
“In carrying out our functions the Trust is required to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between:persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation, men and women generally, persons with a disability and persons without, persons with dependants and persons without.
“The equality duty should not deter a public authority from taking positive action to address disadvantage among particular sections of society. Indeed such action may be an appropriate response to addressing inequalities. There is no conflict between the s75 statutory duties and other affirmation action measures or positive action measures which a public authority may undertake under anti-discrimination laws.
“The information on the noticeboard was designed by young people who use our services and the display has received many positive comments including from teenagers, parents, visitors and staff,” the spokesperson concluded.
While the Trust, in its statement, urged parents to discuss their concerns, the parent we talked to said she didn’t feel comfortable raising the issue at the time – because, ultimately, she was aware of the backlash she would receive.
The Trust didn’t specifically answer Gript’s question which focused on safeguarding, and asked whether the hospital would accept liability if a child, following the links provided on the noticeboard, was led to information that harmed them.
While the Trust encouraged open dialogue around the issue, high profile legal cases and the hounding of celebrities including JK Rowling are evidence that opposing views on transgender ideology are being increasingly silenced and called out.
Gript covered the fact that a teacher of a private girls school in the UK recently wrote an article, ‘The stronghold of transgender ideology in our schools”, in which he expressed concern that a similar silencing of views is now also taking place in schools among children.
A recent investigation conducted by The Telegraph newspaper also laid bare how “identity politics and a drive to “regulate language” on the trans issue in UK Government workplaces has created an “environment of fear”, with employees too afraid to speak out.
The Trust did not respond specifically to our question, which asked if the hospital had previously received any complaints about their promotion of the political material to children, and didn’t say whether it considered the views of parents before deciding to promote contested views.