In 2023, more young people are exploring their sexual identity than ever before. In this blog, we explore three ways in which school staff can best support transgender students and create an environment in which they feel safe, and respected and will thrive both personally and academically.
Pastoral staff in a school must know how to access resources and associated support services specifically designed for transgender pupils. Pupils who are exploring their gender identity are like to feel unsure about a lot of the feelings that they are experiencing and will need someone in school they can approach to discuss their concerns. A few key tips for staff who are approached for support by a transgender pupil are:
- Not to panic if you don’t know the answer to the young person’s query – say you’re unsure but you’ll find out.
- Do not undermine the young person’s feelings – ensure they feel heard and that they are being taken seriously.
- Ask how things are at home. This can be a challenging time for both the pupil and their extended family, and parents may also need signposting towards appropriate support.
Pupils should also be aware of where and how to address any bullying or hate crime concerns. Research has shown that up to 82% of transgender young people experienced bullying in school on the grounds of their sexual identity and that 68% of the young people who had experienced this bullying reported that it negatively affected their educational attainment. Sadly, only 24% of the young people involved in this research stated that they would feel confident reporting transphobia in school (Dr. Lough Dennel et al. 2018). It is imperative that young people feel that they can speak to a member of staff about any bullying issues that they may face.
Addressing transgender students
School leaders must ensure that all school staff are aware of LGBTQ+ equality and that it is regularly discussed in staff meetings to ensure that staff feel supported in their knowledge and understanding of how to support any students who are questioning their gender identity. A big part of this for students is how they wish to express their gender identity through the use of names and pronouns.
Where appropriate, this information must be shared with school staff and the use of alternative names and pronouns must be consistent at all times, especially if the pupils are new to the school setting. Transgender students should have their wishes regarding names and pronouns recorded, shared with staff and updated on any information systems that the school uses so that all stakeholders are fully aware.
The final suggestion for supporting transgender students in the school setting is to allow them reasonable choices around issues such as uniforms, PE kits and the use of toilets and changing spaces. School staff should speak to transgender pupils to confirm their views and choices around these areas and action any appropriate solutions. Many schools now provide a gender-neutral toilet which pupils can access, schools allow all students the opportunity to choose from a variety of uniform options such as trousers or skirts, and PE kits have been updated to allow all pupils the opportunity to participate in comfort.
Pupils exploring their gender identity are likely to require extra support, guidance and care from school staff to support them as they make their future choices. Research has shown how these pupils are at an increased risk of associated mental health risks, therefore schools and staff must be fully equipped to provide this support.
EDClass accommodates transgender students
Transgender students can work on EDClass at their own pace in a comfortable setting without fear of any external pressures.
Students benefit from one-to-one support from UK-qualified teachers and the specific needs of transgender students are accommodated.