Making Schools Safe for Transgender Children

Posted on Oct 13, 2014 | 0 comments

We are fortunate that by homeschooling our kids, we don’t have to worry about unsupportive administrations, mishandled paperwork, or other children (or their parents) bullying our AJ and her brother. But for a lot of parents, their children are already in a school system when they come out as transgender and start their transition.

So what can you do as a parent to ensure your child is safe in a school? You have a few options. First, you must decide if your child will stay in their current school or if you will transfer to a different school in the district. If your child wants to be stealth, changing schools is probably the only way to make that happen. I have heard of some kids who transition over a summer and return to the same school as a “cousin” of their former self, but that usually ends up not working out well in the long-term.

Finding a school system with a well-defined non-discrimination policy in place and one that has had transgender children enrolled before is always helpful. But there are still thousands of districts in the US with no policy in place. That’s where we turn to our ally organizations for help. There are many with full anti-bullying programs, LGBT support and educator training programs in place. Here are some that you can contact (in alphabetical order to not show any preference):

Gender Spectrum — Gender Spectrum will work with individual schools or full districts to create more gender-inclusive schools and a safe environment for all schools. Their training ranges from 2-hour sessions for staff to multi-year programs that enable schools to be accredited as “Gender Inclusive”.

GLSEN  — The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network has several ways to help a school become a more welcoming place for LGBT students. From Educator Resources including curriculum and lesson plans; to professional development toolkits, workshops and webinars; to the Educator Network that provides monthly newsletters full of resources, GLSEN has materials flexible enough to work in any school situation. (Look under the “Teach” tab on their website.)

HRC — The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has a Welcoming Schools program that addresses family diversity in all of its forms, gender stereotypes and bullying. What is unique about their program is that it is geared for K-5 grade levels, while most other programs are designed for middle school and up. They offer a Starter Kit you can download, full lesson plans, and trainers and consultants that work directly with schools across the country.

PFLAG — PFLAG offers a program called “Cultivating Respect: Safe Schools for All”. Local PFLAG chapters are trained in how to offer this program to local schools or school districts. Along with providing support and education to students, parents, and educators, your local PFLAG chapter can help develop creative programs and help craft model policies for inclusion.

TYFA — TransYouth Family Allies can send a trainer to your school to work specifically through issues that will affect a transgender or gender-variant child. More than offering help with bathroom and locker room policies, the use of chosen names and pronouns, and how to work with school records, TYFA will educate a school administration on the daily challenges that families with trans or gender-variant children face because TYFA trainers have trans kids of their own.

Any of these organizations can help lead the way in advocating for your child’s rights and best interests. You don’t have to navigate this road alone.

 

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