When commencing at a new school, trans and gender diverse students and their families are only obliged to provide the school with information that is necessary to provide the student with educational services. Students are entitled to have their personal, historical, medical, social, and other information that is collected by the school kept private. The right to privacy and reputation in state schools is also protected by the Human Rights Act 2019.
If a new student or their family discloses to you that the student is trans or gender diverse, it important to start planning for how the school will affirm and support the student’s gender identity.
The following is an example of supporting a new student in a primary school environment:
Erik and Sharleen have recently moved to a new school catchment and attend an enrolment interview for their son Chris with the deputy at their local primary school. Towards the end of the appointment Erik tells the deputy “there is one more thing, our son is a transgender boy”. The deputy assures the parents that the school works hard to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. He asks what Chris and his parents need from the school to make things easier for Chris when he arrives.
Erik and Sharleen ask that Chris’s preferred name is used on OneSchool. They have not yet changed the name formally. The deputy explains that they will ensure the system, including the class roll and academic achievements, reflects his preferred name and gender marker. He explains that as the family have not changed his name with Births, Deaths and Marriages the system will also need to include a record of Chris’s legal name.
Erik and Sharleen raise the issue of bathrooms. The Deputy offers the options of using the unisex toilets, or the male bathrooms.
The deputy assures Erik and Sharleen that he understands Chris’s being trans is private information but suggests telling the year coordinator or guidance officer so that they can provide particular support to him. Erik and Sharleen agree that this is a good idea.
After speaking to Chris, Erik and Sharleen tell the Deputy that Chris will use the unisex toilets for now. They agree to a follow up meeting in 3 months to check in about how Chris is going at the school.
The following is an example of supporting a new student in their transition to high school:
Lee has been supported throughout primary school to express her gender identity. When it comes time for high school, Lee’s parents seek to enrol her in the same Christian girls’ high school as her sister because they like the principal and believe that the supportive environment will also suit Lee.
They disclose to the school that Lee was assigned male at birth and that she will need private changing facilities for PE and some other considerations to engage fully in school life. When rumours about Lee’s physical differences start circulating among the students the school works out a strategy to deal with the issue with Lee and her parents. With Lee’s agreement, the principal enlists the support of parents, writing to them to confirm that they have an inclusive school that accepts all girls including transgender girls, and asking them to talk with their daughters about respect and inclusion.
The school manages to protect Lee’s privacy while also establishing clear behavioural expectations and leadership. Lee is offered private changing facilities if she wants them, but she is also free to use the girls’ bathrooms, play sport with her peers, and otherwise fully engage in high school.