The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) has come under fire for a programme aimed at prepubescent children which claimed that there are "over 100" gender identities.
The film, entitled Identity - Understanding Sexual and Gender Identities, is currently being presented on the publicly-funded broadcaster's ‘Teach' website and is aimed at children between the ages of nine and 12 years old.
The programme says that becoming transgender is a means by which children can become "happy" and that supposedly different gender identities include "gender-queer", "pansexual", and "bi-gender", the Daily Mailreported.
At one point during the film, a pupil is seen asking a Relationships and Sex Education teacher: "How many gender identities are there?"
The teacher replies: "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."
Later in the film, a transgender healthcare worker tells the pupils: "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."
The film was widely criticised, with Conservative MP Jackie Doyle-Price saying: "Telling children there are more than 100 genders is nonsense, and potentially harmful as it risks normalising something which is extremely rare."
London mayoral candidate David Kurten also took aim at the BBC, writing: "The BBC should not be teaching kids unscientific nonsense about genderqueer theory. There are two sexes, not 100 genders. #DefundTheBBC."
In response to the outrage, the BBC said that over 50 teachers were consulted in crafting the messaging of the film, which they said was not part of the ‘Lockdown Learning' offer for children - most of whom have been forced to use online education during the coronavirus crisis.
A spokesman said: "It is available on the BBC Teach website, our service for teachers to use for curriculum support." He went on to claim that it was "clearly stated" on the website that "due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with pupils".
The spokesman went on to deny that the fictional teacher had said that there were over 100 genders, but rather that she had "come across more than a hundred different terms people use to describe their gender identity".
In September, the Department for Education released guidance for schools warning that teachers "should not reinforce harmful stereotypes, for instance, by suggesting that children might be a different gender based on their personality and interests or the clothes they prefer to wear".
The advice went on to say that "teachers should not suggest to a child that their non-compliance with gender stereotypes means that either their personality or their body is wrong and in need of changing".