Giving Compass’ Take:
• Vanessa Ford discusses with Stephen Noonoo at EdSurge how schools can build supportive and safe environments for transgender students.
• Currently, seven in 10 LGBTQ students face bullying in schools. What are some examples of current effective school policies that address this statistic?
• Read about trans students safety and bathroom restrictions.
In 2015, Vanessa Ford’s 4-year-old came out as transgender. Ford says she was lucky to have a strong support network and an understanding school, but she was still a little overwhelmed. Even though she had spent 14 years as an educator at D.C. Public Schools, she realized there was a lot she still didn’t know, such as how to make a support plan for her daughter Ellie.
Now a board member for the National Center for Transgender Equality, she’s sharing hers and 8-year-old Ellie’s story at conferences, teacher trainings and in outlets like the Washington Post.
At a time when 7 in 10 LGBTQ students face bullying, they shared startling statistics on the unique impacts felt by transgender students—but also how schools can build more inclusive and supportive environments.
EdSurge: I want to talk a little bit about gender-neutral bathrooms to start. This may be the first point of entry into this topic for many people. How do schools address this sensitively yet practically?
Vanessa Ford: It’s something that comes up a lot as we are addressing the needs of students. A gender-neutral bathroom is a really critical bathroom that students should have access to. What’s most important is that no student is relegated to that bathroom. No adult is telling certain students that they must use it. It should be available to students who want the additional privacy, whether those are transgender, non-conforming students or other students who want privacy.
Do you have any language that you recommend that schools use with parents, or how do schools convey this?
Ford: One of the complaints that some parents have is that they don’t want a transgender person in the bathroom with their child. There is a great resource from Gender Spectrum that gives administrators language to [address] specific parent concerns.
Read the full article about how schools can help transgender students by Stephen Noonoo at EdSurge.
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