November is Transgender Awareness month, a great time to review our responsibilities to youth who are transgender, and to seek expert advice about fulfilling these responsibilities. Here are a few key points quoted from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Gender-Inclusive Schools webpage:
- “All students have the rights to be treated consistent with their gender identity at school.”
- “Washington public schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including transgender and gender-expansive students.”
- “In Washington public schools, students have the right to be addressed by their requested name, pronoun (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.), and gender designation.”
- “School dress codes should be gender-neutral and should not restrict a student’s clothing choices on the basis of gender.”
- “Public schools must allow students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.”
- “Public schools should provide access to the locker room that corresponds to a student’s gender identity.”
For greater explanation, please see OSPI’s Gender-Inclusive Schools: Resources for School Districts webpage.
The importance and opportunity in supporting our transgender youth cannot be understated – the risk of death by suicide for LGBTQ+ youth is four times higher than others to die by suicide if they do not have care and support from friends and school personnel. Without care and support from family, they are eight times more likely to die by suicide. These risks are even higher for transgender youth than for LGBTQ+ youth in aggregate.
To learn how educators and other school personnel can best support transgender youth, we consulted Light Estrada Gonzalez of Children’s Home Society. Light has been the facilitator of Triple Point NCW since its beginning in 2020. Light uses they and them pronouns.
We asked Light for recommendations from Triple Point NCW on how educators and other school personnel can best support youth who are transgender. Light recommends the following: