What Is Supporting Transgender And Gender-Expansive Students?
Creating inclusive spaces for transgender and gender-expansive youth means allowing all students to thrive regardless of gender identity or expression.
Gender enters the classroom constantly when ...
- A teacher asks boys and girls to line up separately to go to recess.
- A drama teacher assigns students roles in a play based on gender.
- A grandfather brings in pink cupcakes for girls and blue for the boys.
Each of these instances can create anxiety and isolation in transgender and gender-expansive youth. In which line does the student stand who doesn’t identify as male or female? What if a transgender girl gets a cupcake meant for a boy? Spaces that embrace transgender and gender-expansive youth recognize that gender diversity is natural and acceptable, and that everyone deserves the chance to feel affirmed and welcomed at school.
Gender does not only impact transgender and gender-expansive students at school; all students have and express gender differently. If a teacher asks for “a strong boy” to help to lift a box, that teacher just told the class that only boys can be strong. If a principal hands out yellow pencils to girls while boys receive green, will the boy that likes yellow be afraid to ask for a different color? Why not allow all students to pick the color they want?
Educators owe it to students to allow all learners the same opportunities, both educationally and socially.
As school communities work toward creating environments that embrace and welcome transgender and gender-expansive students, all students benefit as educators encourage youth to be themselves without limitations based upon gender.