Transgender Youth Support in K-12 Schools

Transgender Youth Support in K-12 Schools

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Essential resources for parents and educators brought to you by leading LGBTQ rights organizations

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the FOX television series Glee featuring Unique, you’re familiar with the Hollywood version of some of the challenges transgender youth can face when they enter a school campus. But tearing up over Unique’s raw vulnerability and sending your own transgender child to school are two entirely different things.

Of course your child deserves a safe, appropriate, and supportive learning environment. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents of transgender children have to fight for their children’s rights. For Solo Moms, this fight can look particularly daunting, but rest assured, you are not alone.

Thanks to a coalition of leading LGBTQ organizations and the National Education Association, there’s a new resource available: Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.

Schools in Transition is a free, downloadable, printable guide from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gender Spectrum, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the NEA. It has 61 pages of essential information to help educators and administrators support your child.

Yes, the guide is written specifically for educational professionals, but the information it contains will help you strengthen your advocacy skills. Take, for example, the premise of the guide:

While this guide is designed around the unique needs of transgender students, it is critical to recognize that transgender students are not the only youth affected by gender at school. Stereotypes about gender are reinforced in many ways in the school environment, which prevents all youth from reaching their full potential. For example, we may limit the toys or activities students can enjoy based on our preconceived notions of appropriate behavior and roles for girls and boys.

Creating a more welcoming environment for students’ gender diversity is a more effective and lasting strategy than trying to “solve” the concerns associated with an individual transgender student. Accordingly, many schools are working to develop more gender-inclusive environments for all students, knowing that they are also creating more affirming spaces for transgender students in the process. Such work represents a systematic approach to improving a school’s overall climate and will ultimately increase all students’ sense of safety, engagement and inclusion.

When you understand—and when you help your child’s educators understand—that gender assumptions impact all students, you—and the educators—will feel less like you are asking for special exceptions for your unique child, and more like you’re working to making the school a more inclusive environment for all children.

When you present a copy of Schools in Transition to your child’s educators, they’ll get the full spectrum of information on gender in schools, presented in a respectful, helpful, student-centered tone.

The guide walks readers through the following topics:

  • gender development
  • creating a safe and supportive space
  • creating a transition plan
  • privacy issues
  • helping other parents and students understand and support a transgender child
  • dealing with school records and student information systems
  • names and pronouns
  • dress codes
  • bathrooms and locker rooms
  • P.E., team sports, and overnight field trips
  • dances, proms, and social traditions
  • discrimination, harassment, and violence
  • using special education to benefit your transgender child
  • legal information

When you read this guide for yourself, you’ll be tapping into the knowledge, strategies, and support you need to help your child thrive in school. When you give Schools in Transition to your child’s educators, you’re handing them a blueprint for building a more inclusive school.

Yes, you’re a Solo Mom, but you’re not headed onto campus alone. You’ve got the best resources, from the nation’s top LGBTQ rights organizations, right here at your fingertips.

Cheryl Dumesnil, ESME’s LGBTQ Resource Guide, is an author, educator, writing coach, all-around do-gooder, and one of two moms separately coparenting two amazing boys. You can follow her on Twitter at @cheryladumesnil.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

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