Schools Given Guidance On Supporting Children As Young As Four Who Want To Change Gender
Schools in Scotland have been issued guidance on helping young transgender children.
It was recently revealed 82% of trans kids have experienced bullying, 68% of those facing difficulties in their education as a result and more than a quarter (27%) leaving school altogether.
The new guidance has been welcomed by charities and support groups, with ministers hoping it’ll help schools and education authorities ‘make decisions effectively’, using ‘real-life examples’ to help teachers tackle bullying, safety and privacy and promote healthier LGBTQ+ attitudes.
The Scottish government has suggested schools introduce gender neutral toilets and uniforms, urging for ‘privacy and safe spaces’ for all children. Pupils should also be allowed to compete on sports teams based on the gender they identify with under the new guidance, BBC News reports.
The advice applies to primary schools as well as secondary, because ‘recognition and development of gender identity can occur at a young age’.
Teachers will also be told to avoid telling children any thoughts regarding gender identity are part of a ‘phase… if a young person comes out to you, it’s also important not to deny their identity, or overly question their understanding of their gender identity’.
Teachers will be encouraged to ask pupils for their name and preferred pronouns, as well as asking them whether they’ve discussed it with their family – however, it’s not necessary for the parents to be involved in matters regarding their gender identity in school.
‘A transgender young person may not have told their family about their gender identity. Inadvertent disclosure could cause needless stress for the young person or could put them at risk and breach legal requirements. Therefore, it is best to not share information with parents or carers without considering and respecting the young person’s views and rights,’ the guidance states.
Advice isn’t being prescribed to schools, nor will they be forced to follow the recommendations. ‘Pupils are happier and learn more at school when they feel safe, respected and included,’ Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said.
‘We know transgender young people can face many issues in schools and that teachers and staff must have the confidence and skills to support their mental, physical and emotional health.
‘This guidance outlines how schools can support transgender young people while ensuring that the rights of all pupils are fully respected. It provides schools with practical suggestions. The guidance is not prescriptive and does not promote transitioning.’
Dr. Mhairi Crawford, chief executive of LGBT Scotland, backed the guidance, saying it will ‘guide school staff on how best to do so, improving the lives of trans young people and enabling them to thrive’.
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