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BBC educational programme tells 9-year-olds there are more than 100 genders

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A short film titled called Identity – Understanding Sexual and Gender Identities, has been made available on the BBC as part of a sex and relationships learning package. On the BBC website, it says the clip contains “real-life concerns from children aged 9-12”. In the five-minute video, children ask a variety of questions to adults, including teachers and health workers.

Some of the questions posed in the clip include, what’s the difference between sex and gender? What are the different gender identities? What do you think transgender means? When do people feel like they want to change gender?

The programme comes as the Department for Education told schools to take extra care when teaching students about gender and stereotypes in updated guidance.

In one scene of the BBC show, a pupil asks “how many gender identities are there?”

Kate, who is described as a Relationships and Sex Education teacher, says there are more than 100 and gives the example of people who may identify as “gender-queer” or “bi-gender”.

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She said: “There are so many gender identities.

“So we know we have got male and female, but there are over 100 if not more gender identities now.

“Some people might feel that they are two different genders, people might think they are bi-gender.

“You have got some people who might call themselves ‘gender-queer’ – just like, I don’t want to be anything in particular, I just want to be me.”

In another clip, health worker Leo, tells the students he identifies as a transgender man because he wants to be “happy”.

He said: “’I told people it wasn’t because I wanted to be transgender but because I wanted to be happy and to be happy I had to be true to who I was.

“Nobody really treats me differently but I feel that the pieces in my life fit better now.”

On its website, the BBC says the “adult’s answers are not scripted or prepared” and the content “acts as stimulus material for teachers to prompt discussions around related topics”.

It adds: “The video encourages children to find answers to actual questions and to gain a balanced view of these important issues.”

The BBC says more than 50 teachers took part in the clip and was produced alongside experts from the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum.

The BBC also “strongly advises” teachers to view the programme themselves before showing it to students due to the sensitive topics.

Updated guidance issued by the Department for Education guidance says: “Resources used in teaching about this topic must always be age-appropriate and evidence-based.”

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It adds teachers should “not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality”.

A BBC spokesman said the teacher known as ‘Kate’ in the clip had not claimed there were “hundreds of genders”, but she had “come across more than a hundred different terms people use to describe their gender identity”.

A BBC spokesman added: “The film is not part of our Lockdown Learning offer. It is available on the BBC Teach website, our service for teachers to use for curriculum support.

“More than 50 independent experts contributed to this film, which was made to help teachers when discussing health and relationships… the film comes with supporting notes and other films to provide further context.”

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