3 ways schools can better accommodate transgender students

CTV, Canada
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca Staff

With a growing number of transgender students going public about their
gender identity, including many at a young age, schools are developing
policies to address the needs of these children while protecting them from
discrimination and bullying.

Kris Wells, a researcher with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and
Services at the University of Alberta, says gender identity is often set
before a student enters Kindergarten.

“Thanks to social awareness and new language that’s evolving, young people
and their families are able to identify and support youth at younger and
younger ages,” Wells told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.


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Wells pointed to three actions schools and undertake to accommodate
transgender students.

1. Respecting confidentiality

Determining whether only the school’s principal should be aware of the
student’s gender identity transition, or whether teachers and students
should also know, depends on each case, Wells said.

Wells recently worked 11-year-old Wren Kauffman, who’s decided to not hide
the fact that he was born a girl from his fellow classmates at an Edmonton
school.

However, Wells said some students and families look for a fresh start after
transitioning gender, often switching schools and sometime moving to a new
province.

2. Maximizing inclusiveness

Wells said it’s important that schools use proper names and pronouns on
records and files, and allow students to use bathrooms and change rooms
according to their preferred gender identity.

3. Breaking down stereotypes

Young people need to know they’re not alone in this, and every child wants
to be loved and every child deserves to be safe at school,” Wells said.

He said teachers and parents need to listen to the child’s needs and
understand their best interest, while also educate themselves on what it
means to be transgender.

“Bullying, discrimination, and sadly violence, is still endemic in our
society towards transgender people,” Wells said. “It’s really the challenge
of learning this new gender role and to be themselves fully in all aspects
of their life.”

He said coming to terms with a new gender role begins at the home before
involving the school, extended family and the wider community.

“It’s not a one-time event,” he said.

© 2013 All rights reserved.

http://canadaam. ctvnews.ca/ 3-ways-schools- can-better- accommodate- transgender- students- 1.1439620

 

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