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New report offers school districts guidelines for transgender students

Craig Clough | August 6, 2015

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Image from the "Schools in Transition" report.

Image from the “Schools in Transition” report.

Five national organizations this week released a first-of-its kind guidebook for school districts on how to navigate common issues that arise with educating transgender students.

The report, “Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools,” offers advice and best practices on a wide range of issues districts often face, such as bathroom rights, sports, student confidentially and bullying.

“Many are unfamiliar with the needs of transgender students, and attempts to meet those needs can be fraught with emotion for all involved,” the report’s introduction says. “Educators may have concerns about their own capacity to support their transgender students, or hesitate to act because of personal feelings or fear of negative reactions from the larger community.”

The guide’s lead authors are Asaf Orr, the Transgender Youth Project staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Joel Baum, Gender Spectrum’s senior director for professional development and family services. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the ACLU and the National Education Association are co-authors.

The guide comes as more national focus falls on how school districts protect the rights of LGBT students, and a number of states and districts have received attention for how they have chosen to address the issue.

The Nevada Assembly, for example, outraged transgender advocates this past spring when some members attempted to pass a bill that would have required students to use the bathroom correlating with their biological sex. The bill failed. There was also a recent report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network that found the majority of districts lack LGBT anti-bullying policies.

The new transgender school guide is receiving praise from LGBT organizations. The Advocate, a prominent LGBT-themed publication, called it “trailblazing.”

Writing about the guide in a commentary for The AdvocateEllen Kahn, director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families Program, said, “Educators should have the tools they need to guide them through the process of supporting transgender students, and this first-of-its-kind blueprint covers topics ranging from basic concepts of gender and the importance of affirming gender identity, to best practices for restroom access and working with unsupportive parents.”




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