Most companies and organizations have one important thing in common. If you visit their websites or look at a job posting, you will likely find the equality and nondiscrimination statement. Most of us just gloss over it. After all, it is just legal jargon and really doesn’t mean anything, right?
Today, we are digging a little deeper and looking at what that means. Let’s look specifically at educators. The gist of a non-discrimination statement is that it is a guarantee that human rights are given no matter the sexual orientation, race, color, language, disability, etc. Can we chat for a minute about what that “should” mean for transgender children in schools?
- Educational institutions adhere to Title IV. If you reach out to your school about your child’s gender identity they might give you a copy of this document. It is good to review this document prior to meeting with or approaching the school.
- Educators will respect and use the preferred pronoun for transgender children. In fact, welcoming schools will lead with pronouns on emails, badges, and in the classroom to normalize respecting pronouns and model affirming behavior. In my son’s high school English class, his teacher gave out a questionnaire on the first day of class asking several questions. Specifically, they asked for preferred pronouns. My son came home so excited to see an affirming teacher.
- There will be alternate ways to line up students for games, activities, field trips, or concerts. Meaning: no more exclusive girl or boy lines.
- Speaking of concerts: educators should do away with “girls in skirts and boys in slacks” for band and chorus. It is fine to have clothing choices as long as children get to dress in the clothing they feel comfortable in.
- Gender diverse children will be able to use the bathroom of their affirmed gender. Even better: single stall, gender neutral bathrooms. This means that the person has a private bathroom so people cannot peek under to out a person. Above all, bathrooms are frequently a source of fear and harm for transgender people. Privacy and protection should be on the minds of educators who are in charge.
- Transgender children should be able to play on the sports team of their affirmed gender.
- Health education: dividing students according to the binary stigmatizes sex, puberty, and relationships. In addition, children who are not hetero, cis-normative can feel uncomfortable or even fearful of being outed in traditional health education. An incredible resource for inclusive health and puberty education was created by Gender Spectrum. Find their Principles of Gender-Inclusive Puberty and Health Education here.
- Children will be able to access literature, history and information that reflects their lived experience.
- Historically, virtual classrooms have been incredibly problematic for transgender children. Ensuring that children are not dead-named or misgendered by electronic systems is imperative for metal health and safety.
- The Human Rights Campaign has created a Welcoming School program. To sign up for their newsletter or read more about how your child’s school can be welcoming please visit their website.
In conclusion, look closely at your employer’s non-discrimination statement. Moreover, think about what that really means for you as an employee of that company. Do your everyday actions align with those statements? Are there areas where you could improve? For, what to you might be some legal jargon at the end of a website, is actually a life-saving statement for a transgender child.