For many trans young people school life is tough. More than half experience bullying, while more than two in five trans pupils have attempted to take their own life. The majority feel they have no adult to talk to at school or at home.
Thankfully more and more schools are making sure that their school is a welcoming, safe place for young people who are trans, or who simply don’t conform to the gender stereotypes society expects of them. They will tell you that doing so creates a more inclusive and understanding environment that has big benefits for all of their pupils. As more schools open themselves to learning about how to be trans inclusive, there is a hunger for information from teachers, school staff and others involved in education.
That’s why the ‘schools resource pack’ produced by Transgender Trend this week is so dangerous. Masquerading as professional, ‘evidence-based’ advice for schools on how to ‘support trans and gender nonconforming young people’, the pack in fact provides the reverse. It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content.
It is a deeply damaging document, packed with factually inaccurate content.
Not only does it fail to reflect the real experiences of trans young people, it actively encourages schools to take steps that risk them falling foul of their legal duties and duty of care to pupils. The idea that listening to young people and taking steps to make them feel included might encourage them to be trans is quite simply a myth.
Most teachers would agree that effectively supporting any young person begins with listening to them, and understanding their experiences and needs. Supporting trans young people is no different. Talking to young people about what steps will help them to feel included, happy and welcome at school just makes sense.
Creating a school environment that allows trans young people to be happy and healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or scary
Creating a school environment that allows trans young people to be happy and healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or scary, nor does it in any way compromise the positive experiences or rights of any other young person at school.
In fact, it does the opposite.
The hundreds of schools Stonewall works with see LGBT inclusion as part of their wider work to create a safe, welcoming environment for all pupils. This helps all students understand, accept, and celebrate difference to create a generation who accept people for who they are. Our ‘Creating a Trans Inclusive School’ training dispels the damaging myths, panic and confusion that organisations like Transgender Trend are trying to spread.
We hope that all schools will take similarly positive steps, in whatever way works for them. But one thing we want every educator to be clear on is that they must have nothing to do with this deeply damaging publication.