TALK TO ADMINISTRATORS AND FACULTY ABOUT GENDER DIVERSITY TO DETERMINE IF THE SCHOOL WILL BE A GOOD FIT FOR YOUR CHILD.
Forming a positive relationship with school administrators and staff, whether you are new to a school or returning, it vital to the safety and success of your gender-expansive child. You will need to be proactive. Be sure to approach the school as partners, not as adversaries. Assume they have positive intentions; the vast majority of educators are interested in the well-being of the students and families they serve. However, most have little or no training about working with gender-expansive children. It may be that you will need to help them by providing resources, materials, and examples of other schools that have successfully met the needs of gender-expansive students.
Even before your child starts at a school, you can start preparing. Many schools do professional development during the few weeks before school starts. Ask for gender training to be included in this professional development, so teachers feel prepared to deal with your gender-expansive or transgender child. Even if you are the first family at the school with a gender-expansive child, you certainly won’t be the last. Point out that it is in the best interest of all of the students, not just your student, for the staff to be trained, as gender affects every child and the school wants to create a gender-inclusive environment.
As parents, you have the right to choose whom they talk to about your child’s gender, and school officials need to be careful to respect privacy. One of the most common questions that arises when students transition in schools is whether others in the school community have a right to know about the student’s gender transition. The simple answer is - no.
A student’s transgender status, legal name or sex assigned at birth is confidential medical information and protected personally identifiable information, and disclosure of that information may violate the school’s obligations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or constitutional privacy protections. Given the level of discrimination transgender people experience, sharing that information could also expose a student to harassment and abuse from peers, educators and school staff. Absent an explicit legal obligation or express permission from the student and family, such information should not be shared with anyone, including other parents and school personnel, and the school and district should implement safeguards to prevent such disclosures.
Some students and families want to be more open with the school and community about the transition process, which could include, for example, sending a letter home to parents or setting aside time during a class period for the student to discuss their plan for a gender transition. Others may prefer to share this private information with a select group of people to ensure that the student has a support network at school. Regardless of how private a student or family ask the school to keep this information, that decision does not prevent the student from discussing their gender identity openly and deciding when, with whom, and how much to share.