Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 14
To Support Transgender Students, Teachers Need Training
will tell you they don't want to do anything wrong. They want to be as supportive as possible."
Even so, "we know that too often,
professional development for educators often does not include LGBTQ
identities and often even less so
around trans- or gender-nonconforming identities," she said.
Research has found that compared
to their non-transgender peers, transgender youth are more likely to miss
school, have lower grades, and view
their school climate negatively.
A 2017 study by GLSEN found that
nearly 84 percent of transgender students and 70 percent of gender-nonconforming students were bullied or harassed at school. Just over 40 percent of
these students had been prevented by a
school policy from using their affirmed
name or pronouns, and almost half had
been required to use the bathroom that
differed from their gender identity.
Supportive teachers and administrators can help reduce some of these
odds, Arredondo said.
"When [students] don't feel affirmed
or don't feel safe, then they can't
learn," she said.
There's no firm national data on how
many students identify as transgender
or gender-nonconforming. A recent
study of 81,000 Minnesota teens
found that nearly 3 percent were transgender or gender-nonconforming. The
students were in 9th and 11th grades.
But few professional development
providers and teacher-preparation
programs show teachers the best practices for working with students of different gender identities. Five years ago,
faculty at the University of Colorado
Boulder's school of education realized
they were sending teachers out into the
field without preparing them to teach
"We kind of owe them a debt," said
Bethy Leonardi, an assistant research
professor at CU Boulder and the cofounder and co-director of A Queer
Endeavor, which provides professional learning opportunities around
gender and sexuality for teachers.
"We recognize that there's a need,
that teachers in the field are really
craving this kind of support."
Since 2014, A Queer Endeavor has
trained 6,000 teachers, counselors,
and administrators. The group has
partnered with five Colorado districts
and offers as many trainings for staff
as requested, in addition to an annual
professional-development institute for
teachers across the state.
"A lot of times when LGBTQ students are talked about, it's, 'How do
we protect these kids?' " Leonardi
said. "Our work really broadens the
scope of what this conversation is all
about. We want to create cultures and
contexts that recognize and affirm
Teachers can start by challenging
gender norms in their classrooms and
avoiding gendered language, such as
Rachel Woolf for Education Week
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Teacher Nina Gustafson displays
her pronouns in a training in
Boulder, Colo., to help educators
create supportive classrooms for
Tips for the Classroom
These classroom practices from advocacy groups
A Queer Endeavor and GLSEN can help teachers
foster a safe space for all their students, no matter
how they identify.
the first day of class, ask students to name
themselves rather than calling roll. Change the
names on your class list as needed, and give that list
to substitute teachers.
you feel comfortable, normalize pronoun* Ifsharing
by sharing your own. ("Hi, I'm Ms.
Smith, and I use she/her pronouns.")
require students to share their
pronouns with the whole class. Instead, offer
them a private opportunity to share their names,
pronouns, and anything else they want you to know
about them. Respect your students' privacy and follow
using gender-neutral pronouns,
such as "they" and "ze," while visualizing the student
who uses them. This will help you refer to the student
addressing your students, avoid using
"ladies and gentlemen," "boys and girls," and
other gendered language like "guys." Some
alternatives: friends, folks, scholars, readers, scientists,
Avoid grouping students by gender. If
group students based on birthday months or
their preferences, like vanilla or chocolate ice cream,
dogs or cats, etc.
students that you're an ally by hanging
a pride flag or a sign indicating to LGBTQ students
that your classroom is a safe space.
feedback, especially from transgender
and gender nonconforming students or adults. Make
adjustments as needed.
14 | EDUCATION WEEK | September 18, 2019 | www.edweek.org
calling students "boys and girls," she
said. And she encourages teachers to
create space in their classroom for students to share their pronouns.
"We often say, 'Share your pronouns
as a teacher as a way to open up the
conversation,' " she said. "You become
the curriculum for students."
Megan Hayes-Golding, a high
school physics and robotics teacher
at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield,
Mass., said she shares personal things
with her students, which encourages
them to also open up to her. For instance, she'll mention her wife in conversations, and includes her pronouns
on her name tag. Hayes-Golding tells
students they are welcome to share
their pronouns with her-but she
doesn't make it mandatory.
"If I asked every kid in the room to
share their pronouns, a kid who is just
figuring out their identity is going to be
uncomfortable," she said.
Meanwhile, at Silver Creek High
School in Sellersburg, Ind., there are
several students who are transgender
or gender-nonconforming, said Erin
Braune, a 10th and 11th grade English
teacher and the founder of the school's
"When they tell their teachers [their
gender identity], they feel supported,"
she said. But not all of them do share.
To get around that problem in her
own classroom, Braune asks her students what their pronouns are-and in
what context she should use them-in
her back-to-school survey. For example, she said, some students might
only want her to use their affirmed
pronouns or names privately, and not
in front of their classmates. And other
students might be out at school, but
not to their parents.
Students, she said, "need a place to
ask questions and feel like they can
let their guard down for a second. It
helps normalize what is often seen as
Experts say this work can begin at all
grade levels. In fact, Leonardi said elementary teachers are the most likely
to sign up for A Queer Endeavor's voluntary trainings.
Christopher Henry Hinesley, the assistant director for campus life at the Q
Center at Rochester Institute of Technology, works with LGBTQ students
brand new to college. He's noticed that
students seem to be beginning to transition or come out at earlier ages.
"I'm seeing kids who have transitioned already before they get here,
at least socially, or they're ready to go
once they get here," he said. "I know
we have a generation coming who will
have already transitioned in middle
school or elementary school."
That means that teachers of all
grade levels need to embed LGBTQ
experiences into their curricula,
Hinesley said. Just four states-Illinois, California, New Jersey, and
Colorado-have mandated teaching
LGBTQ history in the last few years.
"Having a Harvey Milk Day isn't
going to cut it," he said. "We need to
talk more about what are the presentday experiences of people who, every
time they fill out a form, their identity
gets erased. What kind of stories can
we tell that will expand the narrative
to include more people?"
Learning the Language
That's why professional learning is
so important, Leonardi said. A Queer
Endeavor's trainings equip teachers
with the tools and vocabulary to tell
the stories of LGBTQ people.
"A lot of teachers don't have the
language. They just haven't been supported to understand the difference
between gender and sexuality, for example," she said. "It's not on teachers.
... It's been deemed inappropriate and
controversial. It's not controversy; it's
Teachers at Silver Creek High
School in Indiana were eager to support LGBTQ students-but they
didn't know where to start, Braune
said. She sent out a list of terms, such
as "gender-nonconforming" and
"nonbinary," to the faculty so they
could "feel a little more confident."
But now that students have taken
more ownership of the school's GayStraight Alliance, Braune said they are
educating their teachers, too.
Last school year, the Hopkins school
district in Minnetonka, Minn., held a
training on transgender students. It
was organized and presented by three
transgender students, said Mark
French, the principal of Gatewood Elementary School who attended.
As an openly gay man, French
thought he was well-versed in creating an inclusive school climate, but
hearing directly from transgender
students was powerful, he said.
"What I took away from each of
these students," he said, "is we have
to respect and take their lead in how
they want to be identified."
Education Week - September 18, 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 18, 2019
Education Week - September 18, 2019
How Caring for Students Can Take a Steep Toll
Teachers on Front Lines of Making Schools Safe for Transgender Kids
Could Testing Wreck Civics Education?
Wanted: Teachers as Diverse As Their Students
Digital Tools Are Everywhere, But Evidence of Impact Is Not
What the Research Says
Talking Politics at School ‘When the World Is on Fire’
Presidential Candidates Argue Charters, Equity
The Perils of Equity-Focused Leadership
Special and General Education Should Be One Nimble System
Letters to the Editor
EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Wanted: Teachers as Diverse As Their Students
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 2
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 4
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Digital Tools Are Everywhere, But Evidence of Impact Is Not
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Talking Politics at School ‘When the World Is on Fire’
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Presidential Candidates Argue Charters, Equity
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 8
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 9
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 10
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 11
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 12
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 13
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 14
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 15
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - The Perils of Equity-Focused Leadership
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Special and General Education Should Be One Nimble System
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - 20
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW1
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW2
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW3
Education Week - September 18, 2019 - CW4