But on Monday, critics slammed the school as “incredibly wrong” for reading pupils on their privilege and sexism against transgender people in its bid to stamp out sexist behaviour, amid female students’ sex abuse claims.
Tanya Carter, from Safe Schools Alliance, a parent campaign group, said: “The whole thing seems utterly bizarre.
“Why would a school at the center of the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ scandal concentrate on virtue signaling, such as telling pupils to think about their privilege, rather than seeking to address a culture that has resulted in appalling experiences for their female students?
“And the misinformation which is being spread about modern feminism is nothing short of irresponsible.”
A teacher from a neighboring school, whose pupils attended the forum, said she was equally concerned by the school’s approach.
“My fundamental concern is that a school so widely criticized for the behavior of some of the students in terms of sexual harassment and sexual assault should launch an anti-sexism forum that doesn’t deal with those issues whatsoever,” the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
“Some of the pupils who attended may have been victims of that violence, so to have them sit there and say maybe you aren’t the concern here, let’s talk about your privilege seems incredibly wrong.”
The teacher also questioned claims in the anti-sexism presentations that the media was creating a “moral panic” by addressing issues such as men who identify as women being allowed in female changing rooms and children being permitted to change gender at school without parental consent.
She said: “They say there is a moral panic, which is almost gaslighting of the students because they’re basically saying well if you have concerns you’re in a moral panic rather than saying it’s legitimate to have concerns.
“It doesn’t take much for someone to say they are non-binary and enter a woman’s space anymore.
“Girls who might have already had to endure sexual harassment and sexual abuse from boys are then being told that you can’t protest about having males in your space.”
A spokesperson for Highgate School said “We commend the compassion and openness shown by the children and young people from all schools who led and engaged with a varied and intersectional program at the forum.
“As a school, we recognize that these conversations are relevant for everyone; no one is exempt from witnessing or experiencing discrimination, including harassment or violence.
“It is essential that all survivors/victims of sexual violence continue to be listened to and cared for. Listening to and caring for transgender, non-binary and gender questioning people is also essential.
“We know that girls and women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment and violence and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience child sexual abuse and less likely to report sexual abuse than their peers.
“If or where tensions exist or are perceived to exist between two or more protected characteristics under the Equality Act (2010), we will do everything that we can – on a case-by-case basis – to ensure that safeguarding every child in our care remains at the heart of what we do here.
“We continue to follow our safeguarding procedures, offer support to all of our pupils, and be led by the guidance of the DfE, local authorities and the police, where applicable. We remain committed to working in close and transparent partnership with our pupils, their parents and carers, staff, and alumni.”