Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Council of Britain’s ‘gay capital’ proposes to remove Mr and Mrs from official documents

Brighton and Hove City Council has suggested removing honorifics from all documents to help better support the needs of the city’s transgender community.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 26 October

Council of Britain’s ‘gay capital’ proposes to remove Mr and Mrs from official documents


Brighton and Hove City Council has suggested removing honorifics from all documents to help better support the needs of the city’s transgender community.

The proposal comes after investigations by the council’s Trans Scrutiny Council. Councillors representing a cross section of parties and two independent advisers held several public meetings and visited support groups across the region in July in order to discover what issues the transgender community face.

Phelim MacCafferty, chair of the panel and local Green Party deputy leader, said: “There has been inadequate awareness for too long about the trans community when it comes to things like their safety, welfare and how they access goods and services.

In setting up this panel we send out a very clear signal that the prejudice the trans community face is something that we will do everything in our power to stamp out.”

The scrutiny panel will put forward several recommendations, including the scrapping of gender-specific titles on official forms. The council will make its decision in December.

An initial report also revealed transgender residents think that gender-specific sports clubs are too exclusive, that transphobia is seen as socially acceptable and that school staff lack guidance in supporting transgender students.

Councillor MacCafferty said: “Trans people aren’t necessarily male or female and sometimes they don’t want to be defined by their gender.

“Putting Mr and Mrs on a form is completely useless. This is an issue that concerns most institutions from banks to mobile phone companies.

'Why is Mr on my debit card, for instance? I don't understand why it is there,” he told the Daily Mail.

However the idea does not have universal support. Dawn Barrett, a Conservative councillor for Brighton and Hove’s Hangleton and Knoll, branded the idea “ludicrous”.

Brighton is known for its thriving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LBGT) and hosts the Gay Pride festival every year. The local Primary Care Trust estimates one in six residents are LGBT.



Questions for discussion


For primary:

  • What activities are generally considered 'for boys' or 'for girls'?
  • Why may this be problematic?

For secondary:

  • How would you feel if people used transphobic or homophobic language towards you?
  • How can we improve our inclusion policy at school to be more aware of LGBT issues?


Related resources


Early years: LGBT inclusion

  • Help even the youngest children understand the importance of equality and diversity with this activity booklet.

Gender variation

  • Introduce the difference between gender and sex with this lesson plan from The Classroom that is packed with transgender film and documentary recommendations.

LGBT guess who

  • Challenge gender stereotypes with this celebrity guess who game.

Equality Act 2010

  • Explore what the act says about equal rights with this detailed PowerPoint.

Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


A row has been triggered among MPs following a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that has led to the introduction a draft bill to allow prisoners limited voting rights.

The scientific world reacted in dismay yesterday after an Italian judge convicted six scientists for failing to assess the risk of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L'Aquila.

The Twitter account of Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, is being investigated by police over the posting of homophobic tweets.

A renowned neuroscientist has issued a stark warning about how pre-teens are being exposed to the effects of social networks, with potentially profound consequences.



In the news archive index