At the moment it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of the following protected characteristics:
You can read more about what a protected characteristic is and your rights here.
If ‘care experience’ was made a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, people who are in or have been in care would have the same legal protection against discrimination as the other listed characteristics.
As of now, we have received a great response, and a wide range of points have been made.
Some of the arguments in favour from responses so far include: that care experience has a life-long impact, that it could bring change and give care experienced people a voice, and it could prevent discrimination, spark conversations and empower people who have experienced discrimination or trauma. One care experienced person wrote:
I have experienced a lot of discrimination as someone who is care experienced. There is a negative stigma and judgement. I’ve even experienced this in my role as professional & in the past it’s made me feel I have to be quiet like I should be ashamed of my care experience. At work there’s been incidences where I’ve been treated differently.Anonymous care experienced person
Some of the arguments against care experience becoming a protected characteristic in responses so far include: it could result in more discrimination and stigmatisation, that being in care is a positive rather than a negative, and that people want separation from being care experienced. Other points made so far include the idea that the system should be improved rather than politicised, that people might feel pressured to reveal their experiences in care, and that discrimination by existing protected characteristics is still prevalent. One person wrote:
For some young people I believe this may be beneficial, however, many of the looked after children I have worked with (and indeed fostered myself) would see this as a negative acknowledgement of their disadvantage – not only in terms of stigma but also a self-fulfilling prophecy which may prohibit their achievement of their full potential.Anonymous care experienced person
Some people responded ‘I don’t know’ when asked whether care experience should be a protected characteristic and providing their reasoning for this, for example, one person wrote:
On the one hand I think it could potentially open up a number of opportunities for those with care experience, which could be really positive. On the other hand, I worry that some may feel further stigmatised by having a continued label in relation to ‘care’ which often some want to move away from.Anonymous care experienced person
What do you think? The Children’s Commissioner wants to hear as many of you as possible to ensure your voices are part of the discussion. You can share your views and take part here.
Have your say, your voice matters!