Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant
Friday, March 31, is the eighth annual Transgender Day of Visibility. It’s a day to show support for the trans community as well as recognize the accomplishments of trans individuals the world over. According to the Trans Student Educational Resources, this year’s theme is “Trans Resistance,” and anyone who wants to take part can do so through discussion, direct action, and dissemination of information. For elementary school educators, Welcoming Schools has several suggestions for participation.
To support transgender students, teachers need to be proactive in moving beyond the limitations of the gender binary in order to provide a learning environment that is gender-expansive and welcoming to all. A great starting place is the Welcoming Schools “Developing a Gender Inclusive School” resource. This framework provides steps that will help schools and districts to create a foundation for gender inclusive practices.
The approach is threefold: structural, relational, and instructional. A structural approach might be a bullying and harassment policy that enumerates gender identity as a protected class. Relational approaches include honoring the name and pronouns a student uses. An example of an instructional approach is this lesson that helps student to see, appreciate, and understand each other as individuals.
Another step schools can take to support transgender students is to provide professional development for teachers. Welcoming Schools offers training modules that specifically address the needs of transgender students: Creating Gender-expansive Schools and Supporting Transgender and Non-binary Students.
Taking place the week Gavin Grimm’s case was supposed to be heard by the Supreme Court, Trans Day of Visibility assumes perhaps an even greater significance. At a time when trans youth are feeling increasingly marginalized, seeing their teachers take positive action on their behalf will go a long way toward providing a safer experience in school.
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier professional development program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools by embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ- and gender-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying and supporting transgender and non-binary students.