Parents/carers and families
An introduction to working with the parents/carers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people is provided on page 13 of An introduction to supporting LGBT young people. In addition, resources for parents/carers and families of trans young people may be able to address specific concerns, for example a lack of understanding about what being trans means, or what a trans young person might be experiencing. Support services for families of trans young people enable parents/carers to talk to others and share experiences online and face-to-face.
A person’s status as trans is private, and schools and colleges should not disclose information – such as details about a transition – that may reveal this to others, including parents/carers, staff and anyone outside the school or college community. Schools and colleges may only share this information where there is a safeguarding risk or a young person has given their permission for specific details to be shared, for example if the young person would like to be known by their preferred name and pronoun in school or college and has requested for staff and peers to be told. Respecting a trans young person’s confidentiality may require staff to use their assigned name and gender when contacting parents/carers or others.
Being trans isn’t a mental health issue. However, worries about experiencing discrimination or distressing feelings relating to their gender identity mean that some trans young people may experience mental distress. A trans young person may want to talk to someone if they have started to transition or if they are confused or unhappy about their gender identity. Staff can help by providing pastoral support or counselling within school or college, or signpost to counselling or therapy services outside the school or college. It’s important to find a mental health professional equipped to talk about gender identity and with some knowledge about the experiences of trans young people.
Getting it wrong
It is important to acknowledge if mistakes are made by staff and peers, such as using the wrong name or pronoun of a trans young person without thinking. The best thing to do is apologise to the young person, and anybody else present, correct yourself and move on. It is also important to support colleagues by correcting them too, so that everyone can work together to make the changes. If all staff use the preferred name and pronoun of the trans young person all of the time, rather than only when in the presence of the trans young person, that will help get into a new routine.