Hot topics in education change as the needs of society’s children change.
Children always strive to figure out who they are, where they fit, what they want to become.
What happens, though, when the gender they were assigned biologically does not mesh with the gender they feel emotionally and mentally?
They label themselves as transgender; but a label does not make a person. These children face a very unique set of challenges. One of the hot topics in education currently is how to support a transgender child in school.
One of the most important ways to support a transgender child is to understand what being transgender means.
Transgender individuals do not necessarily view themselves as gay or straight since it is not about sexuality; it is about identity. Transgender is not something you can identify at a glance. They may not exhibit culturally stereotypical qualities attributed to the gender they view themselves.
Although this is a fairly recent issue with which they may not understand, faculty must remember acceptance is an integral part of support. School staff should do what they can to familiarize themselves with the meaning of transgender and the gender spectrum. Organizations specifically made for transgender children are a great way to find information.
It is also important to stress anti-bullying. As another of the hot topics in education, bullying has been thoroughly discussed with children. However, since the subject of gender-identity is still especially taboo, special care must be taken to ensure a transgender child is not harmed by fellow students, parents, or even school staff. Acceptance and inclusion within school curriculum will help transgender children feel safe enough to be themselves. It will help them form friendships and essential bonds.
Terms such such as “gender expression” and “gender identity” are important to include in a school’s non-discrimination policies, with guidelines set up on how to handle bullying in these specific instances. This establishes a zero-tolerance attitude toward bullying of transgender students. Include positive transgender literature in the school library or lobby. This helps establish a safe place where transgender children feel comfortable being open about their gender-identity.
If the child chooses to keep his/her gender-identity a secret, those wishes must be respected. Transgender children must be allowed to set the pace for opening up to others. This will create a safe environment. This child exhibited utmost bravery in opening up about his/her identity to school staff. It may take a while for that child to find that bravery to open up to someone else. Let them also decide how they would like to handle situations such as being referred to as a he or she. Empowering them in this way will help them grow as individuals.
Although this is relatively new on the list of hot topics in education, addressing it is vital to the child’s development. Transgender students face the stigma of being different, feeling as if they truly do not fit in with society’s norms. Accepting transgender children from the start can avoid heartache later.
More resources about understanding transgender children.
Transgender at five: Tyler’s story leads to outpouring of other stories
The Mother of a Transgender Child Speaks Out
Transgender kids: Painful quest to be who they are
Transgender kids get help navigating a difficult path
More resources about transgender children in the classroom.
Supporting Transgender Children in the Primary Classroom: A Reflection
Elementary Schools, Transgender Kids, and Educator Freak-outs
Transgender Children; The Education of the Educators
DRPFConsults.com also provides articles about gender issues in education. Click here to read a popular article.
HighSchoolMediator.com, another one of DRPF Consults’ sites, has an entire category on bullying and cyberbullying.