Introduction to Trans @ School
We acknowledge Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and recognise their culture, history, diversity, and deep connection to the land, waters and seas of Queensland and the Torres Strait. First Nations’ languages reflect gender diversity, for example ‘kwarte kwarte’ in Arrente, ‘kungka kungka’ in Pitjantjatjara, ‘yimpininni’ in Tiwi and ‘kungka wati’ in Pintipi. We recognise that the discrimination and stigma that impacts on some First Nations’ brotherboys and sistergirls stems from attitudes arising from the colonialization of Australia.
Some people’s gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth. This is known as being trans or gender diverse. Self-recognition of gender identity can emerge earlier than many people realise, with identity emerging for some children by 3 or 4 years of age. Others may not identify as trans or gender diverse until adolescence or adulthood. Some people may not identify as male or female and may identity as non-binary or feel they have no gender.
School is an important part of life for children and young people. Schools not only have an ethical duty, but a legal responsibility to provide a safe and supportive environment that protects all students, including trans and gender diverse students. As such, schools need to know how to support trans or gender diverse students, and understand that each will have specific needs.
Children and young people express gender identify in many ways, such as in their choice of clothing, hairstyle, name and pronouns, behaviours, and social relationships. The school environment should support and affirm gender diverse students, so that they feel they can safely explore and express their developing gender identity, whatever this may be. The best approach is always to ask a student what they need in order to feel respected and affirmed. For this reason, a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to be successful. To succeed there must be clear and open communication between the school and the trans or gender diverse student (and when possible, their family) to ensure that the needs of the student are met.
Use this guide as a resource, but ensure that communication between the school and the trans or gender diverse student and their parents or support people is ongoing.
Purpose of this guide
We hope that this resource will assist students, their families, and educators to navigate the challenging issues that trans or gender diverse students sometimes face in the school environment. The information in the guide applies to both state schools and private schools, including faith-based schools.
This information is general in nature so that it is widely applicable. When supporting individual students, it is vital that schools tailor support to the individual needs of the student, and within the context of that particular school. Part of supporting trans and gender diverse students in school may be to develop a support plan. While not all students who identify as trans or gender diverse will require a plan to support them, schools should communicate with the student to determine their needs and if required put in place a plan for their support.
This resource contains both de-identified real life case studies and fictional scenarios to help illustrate the issues and to provide practical ways in which schools can support trans and gender diverse students.