‘World of woke’ must not prevent children enjoying ‘age of innocence’, says peer

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Children must be allowed an “age of innocence” amid the “misery” brought by the “new world of woke”, according to a Conservative peer.

Baroness Seccombe said she fears for the future of her two great-grandchildren if “we do not come to our senses”.

The 92-year-old criticised teachers for thinking they can “indulge children about their gender identity” and offered her support to Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Lady Seccombe went on to voice concerns over the future of women’s sport, insisting trans women should not be allowed in the same competitions as women born biologically female.

Speaking in the International Women’s Day debate, Lady Seccombe concluded by telling the House of Lords: “We as women are different, our life experiences are different, our contributions are different, very often adding a different perspective, and long may that be the case.

“But for goodness sake, may we allow our little children to have an age of innocence before they have to cope with the harshness and brutality of what some would call this brave new world.”

Other peers speaking in the debate criticised the “witch hunt and demonisation” of trans women.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker said: “In the UK, we know there is a daily campaign against trans women. We see it day after day in our media.

“It’s a campaign that seeks to pit women against women. It portrays trans women as a significant and systemic threat to other women.”

The Green Party’s Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle commended Lady Barker, adding: “She rightly highlighted the witch hunt and demonisation of trans women, which has scarred our public discourse.”

Lady Seccombe, opening her contribution to the debate, said she has been involved in the “fight for equality for women”.

She said: “I want to talk about the new world of woke and the misery it is bringing to the world.

“It seems to have invaded every sphere of society and indeed even some of the Church of England appear to be embracing the ideology.”

Lady Seccombe spoke of her great-grandchildren and told peers: “I fear for their future if we do not come to our senses.

“I believe children thrive best when they live at home with two parents. I do understand that is not always possible for many reasons, including me.”

Lady Seccombe said her father died in the winter of 1942, adding: “Today we have a system where teachers think they have the right to ignore parents and indulge children about their gender identity.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling (Yui Mok/PA)

Turning to the “challenges” faced by some children during puberty and acknowledging support is needed, the peer said: “When I was growing up it wasn’t controversial to accept that we were all born male or female.

“Babies are not assessed at birth, they are observed and recorded. I still strongly believe this and I have been horrified by the treatment of JK Rowling and other brave people by activists, including those she helped to make rich and reach their famous status.

“I have yet to hear or see anything that JK Rowling has said or written which is transphobic. Like her I believe it is not transphobic to support women’s rights. I also believe that adults, after much thought, should be free to choose and live their lives in an alternative way and I support their decision if they wish to do so.

“I fear for the future of women’s sport. I’m always in awe of the success of British women in so many disciplines and admire the parents who for years travel the country in support of their child and the training needed to succeed.

“It is ridiculous and unfair to allow trans women to enter the same race as a woman who is biologically female. I believe that a woman’s physical strength can never equal that of a male person at birth despite the reduction of testosterone in their bodies.”

Conservative peer Baroness Meyer later raised concerns over teaching in schools, saying: “Propagating ideologies that are not based on facts and indoctrinating children reminds me of the Soviet Union.

“This gender ideology is also playing straight into the hands of Mr (Vladimir) Putin, who accuses the West of moving towards Stalinism … and ‘teaching sexual deviation to children’.”

Education minister Baroness Barran said keeping the confidence and trust between schools and parents is “absolutely critical”.

She said: “Our priority should always be the safety and wellbeing of children and that schools should make the curriculum content and materials available to parents.

“We will be bringing forward a review of the statutory guidance of relationships, sex and health education curriculum and starting the consultation on that as soon as possible.”

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