Society

Why schools must teach kids about gender identity

Schools in England will no longer be allowed to tell children about gender identity. There will be two sexes: male and female. That is if the government gets its way, following a consultation on the teaching of relationships and sex education launched yesterday. Gillian Keegan said that the draft guidance ‘specifies that the contested topic of gender identity should not be taught’. However, while the Secretary of State for Education might be able to specify what is taught in schools – this will be statutory guidance applicable to all schools in England – Keegan has no hold over what social media influencers upload to their channels. Misinformation proliferates on the internet, and gender identity is no

Tom Slater

Of course it isn’t racist to tell a Japanese colleague you like sushi

Is it racist to tell a Japanese colleague that you like sushi? No, says an employment-tribunal judge, in another welcome blow for sanity. This is the conclusion to a downright deranged claim of racial discrimination lodged by Nana Sato-Rossberg, a linguistics and culture professor, against her employer, the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) at the University of London. It revolved around Sato-Rossberg’s alleged treatment at the hands of Claire Ozanne, the former deputy director and provost at Soas. After their very first meeting in 2020, the tribunal heard, Sato-Rossberg told a colleague that she suspected Ozanne would be biased against her. ‘People like me, a non-white female’, Sato-Rossberg said,

Brendan O’Neill

The troubling reaction to the shooting of Robert Fico

Just imagine if, following the killing of Jo Cox, some right-wing media outlet had said: ‘Well, she was a divisive figure, and very pro-Remain, so it’s not surprising something like this happened.’ We’d be horrified, right? We would have looked upon such low commentary as excuse-making for murder, as a borderline justification for an utterly unjust act of violence against an MP, a mother and democracy itself. It is hands down the most disturbing thing I’ve heard on a news channel Well, something not dissimilar to this imagined scenario happened for real yesterday – and we need to talk about it. It was on Sky News. They were discussing the

Why does the National Trust hate itself so much?

In its latest bout of self-hatred, the National Trust has declared that ‘people from the global majority are widely under-represented in the outdoors, accounting for only 1 per cent of National Park visitors in 2019’. That’s despite 15 per cent of the population in England and Wales being represented by the global majority. It’s one of the National Trust’s peculiar, masochistic tendencies that it isn’t happy with its members And so, as part of their Walk Together Pathway, the Trust is training 24 people from the global majority to become ‘qualified walk leaders’. Why on earth do you need to be trained to lead a walk? How many qualifications do

Philip Patrick

Will this stop players mobbing the referee?

The European football governing body Uefa has informed competing nations at this summer’s Euros that only team captains will be allowed to approach referees to dispute decisions. It is hoped this will reduce the amount of pressure placed on referees and allow for smoother and more orderly officiating. So, two’s company but three or more will be deemed an unlawful assembly and could result in yellow or even red cards. It’s a bold move, but is it necessary and will it work? The already crucifying difficulty of refereeing is not helped by having a throng of excitable prima donnas ready to encircle you at any moment  The idea comes from

Four Nations

The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) enjoyed a captivating finale over the early May bank holiday. As the final round commenced, three teams remained in close contention to win the title, each with nine wins out of ten matches, and each entering their final match as strong favourite. That meant the league would likely be decided on board points, so every half-point would count. The surprise contenders were the Sharks, who had fielded consistently strong squads but with only a couple of grandmasters. Beating Cheddleton by 5-3 in the final round was another good result, but not the big one they needed. Manx Liberty, who won the event last year,

No. 801

Black to play. A variation from Rasmus Svane-Samuel Chow, 4NCL, May 2024. In the game, Svane avoided the capture of a bishop on d7 which would have allowed this position to occur. Which winning move for Black had he foreseen? Email answers to chess@spectator.co.uk by Monday 20 May. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. Please include an address. Last week’s solution 1…Bf2! 2 f4 e4! and White resigned, there being no good answer to Rh2-h4# Last week’s winner John Trapp, Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambs

2654: 14-222

Eight unclued entries are of a kind. Their unchecked letters can be rearranged to spell out ‘A DISBELIEVING GAUL COULD ACT’. Across 1    Protecting bats utterly absorbs adult (8) 5    Kind of frightening when blowing top (6) 14    Guy ignoring both sides of family (3) 16    Endorse leaders of alternative fuel company (6) 17    Radium finally corroded two bones (5) 20    Tell of knight advancing in rank and energy (7) 22    Channel Islands and Reims manufactured helmet trimmings (7) 24    Regard cycling as threat (7) 25    Blacklegs that you shouldn’t pick? (5) 26    Masses collapse, heading to the finish (5) 31    Light stake held in both hands by Newton (7)

2651: Visionary – solution

The Turner works were RAIN STEAM AND SPEED (5,44) and THE SLAVE SHIP (35), the Ruskin works MODERN PAINTERS (16,9) and UNTO THIS LAST (18)  First prize Geran Jones, Bromley Runners-up Nigel Finlay, Thames Ditton, Surrey; Michael Debenham, Shrewsbury

Letters: how to get the uni protestors out

Soft left Sir: I read with a certain wry amusement in Yascha Mounk’s piece that ‘activists’ occupying Columbia were demanding the university administrators should supply them with food and water (‘Preach first’, 11 May). How times have changed. In winter 1976 I was the president of the student body at Edinburgh University. A group of ultra-left activists occupied a building of the social science faculty. The administration sent two members of staff to speak to me in the hope that I might be able to dislodge them. I explained very patiently to them that given my own unashamed Conservatism, there was unlikely to be any meeting of minds on this

Martin Vander Weyer

Can Starmer and Reeves add some fizz to the economy?

If the 0.6 per cent first-quarter GDP uplift reported by the Office for National Statistics is sustained for the rest of this year, Rishi Sunak will be able to claim – as he waves goodbye – that he and Jeremy Hunt have succeeded against their naysayers in dragging the UK economy from pandemic depths back to the level of ‘trend growth’, around 2.5 per cent per annum, that used to be thought of as normal. That’s spookily in line (as is the path of inflation) with Ken Clarke’s achievement as Tory chancellor in 1996 ahead of the election that swept Blair and Brown to power the following May. How lucky

The power of restorative justice

In a week when the Chief Inspector of Prisons published an Urgent Notification detailing the horrors of HMP Wandsworth, I found myself revisiting memories of being jailed there for the crime of fraud. Clanging doors, rattling chains, men screaming at night in anguish or despair or because their cellmate was assaulting them. No help coming. Emergencies unattended for far too long, and people dead as a result. No purpose, no hope, not even the possibility of redemption. Wandsworth is a miserable prison, one which does as much as possible to brutalise, punish and hurt those it jails, and nothing to heal or change them for the better. The process does

Mary Wakefield

Why are so many young people ‘asexual’?

Who could have foreseen that half a century after the sexual revolution we’d be facing its exact opposite: an asexual revolution? There’s a crisis of fertility across the West, with birth-rates and sperm counts in free fall. But this isn’t only about microplastics, oestrogen in the water or tight underpants. It’s also that the children of the West are choosing to have less sex – even no sex. A growing proportion actually identify as asexual, and rather than wait to see if the absence of lust is just a reasonable, youthful response to all the porn around in schools, they announce their asexuality solemnly to their friends and family. It

Cindy Yu

Be more tiger mum!

‘What’s it to do with me if your boyfriend wants to break up with you? Or if you cried, or had a fight, these are not things that I as a supervisor care about. I’m not your mother. All I care about is results. Our relationship is just employee-employer.’ In a series of videos posted on Douyin (China’s version of TikTok), Chinese tech executive Qu Jing was a little too candid about her management style. Sharply dressed and with hair cut formidably short, she said she expected her staff to be on call 24 hours a day, including at weekends, even at the cost of their personal relationships. If Qu

Aristotle’s advice for young protestors

In his Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle (384-322 bc) sets about identifying the various headings under which you can be persuasive about any topic. One of the topics is the nature of the young, and as today’s students pick up their loud hailers to make demands about events more than 2,000 miles away in alien cultures which despise most of them, there is much of interest in the similarities and differences. In general, Aristotle says, the young, not having lived long, are inevitably ignorant and lack experience. So they are inclined to do whatever they feel like doing, and are easily satisfied because their wants are not overwhelming. They also lack

The Church of England’s volunteering crisis

John Betjeman knew that a church cannot run on prayers alone. ‘Let’s praise the man who goes to light the church stove on an icy night,’ he wrote in his poem ‘Septuagesima’, going on to celebrate the ‘hard-worked’ wardens, cleaners, treasurers, the organist and, most of all, ‘the few who are seen in their accustomed pew’ come rain or shine. ‘And though they be but two or three,’ he concluded. ‘They keep the church for you and me.’ In smaller churches, filling voluntary vacancies is a headache, not helped by ever-increasing bureaucracy Some vicars today may feel fortunate to garner two or three volunteers. A recent Church Times survey found

When was the last genuine royal tour of Nigeria?

Royal welcomes The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Nigeria last week. When was the last genuine royal tour of that country? – The late Queen made a 20-day visit in 1956, four years before Nigeria’s independence. She went for three days in 2003 when she opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.– The then Prince Charles visited in 2018, when he joined a Peacebuilding and Interfaith Engagement, laid a wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves memorial in Abuja and attended a talk on poultry-rearing. Faith in politics A Liberal Democrat candidate in Sutton and Cheam has been deselected allegedly because of his Christian faith. How do religious groups tend

Toby Young

Confessions of a catnapper

As Christopher Snowdon recently pointed out, the past few governments have had a habit of passing laws that are either wildly ambitious or incredibly trivial, while neglecting the real problems Britain faces, such as the housing shortage, the productivity crisis and the eye-watering dysfunction of the NHS. An example of the former is the net-zero emissions law passed in 2019, as if the energy policy of a small island in the North Sea can affect the world’s climate. An example of the latter is a bill that will make it a criminal offence to get cats to follow you down the road. Believe it or not, this had its second

How a hitchhiker gave me a glimpse into my past

On the mantel shelf of the cave there’s an invitation to my middle daughter’s wedding in August. This happy event is causing anxiety on several counts, not least finding something to wear. I hate shopping. Algorithms send me dozens of hideous armour-plated mother-of-the-bride outfits daily but I want to know what Kate Moss would wear if she were shorter, ten years older, half a stone heavier, had a budget of £450 (including accessories) and didn’t look like Kate Moss. One of the things I like about this part of France is the lack of voracious consumerism Last month I finished a portrait painting. The sitter was pleased and came over

I feel for my Jewish friends

‘So what you’re telling me,’ said the priest to the builder boyfriend, ‘is that you were brought up by Irish tinkers, moving from place to place, and have no idea whether or where you were baptised or confirmed?’ ‘And you,’ he said, turning his gaze to me, ‘think your confirmation was done by the Pope at Coventry airport on his official visit to Britain in 1982, but it was a hot day and you fainted so you’re not sure if you got to the stage or were carried away?’ With their attempt to spread plant-based living in a cattle-rearing society, this lot are the new colonialists The BB and I