Children and youth spend much of their time at school. Schools can be affirming places with positive teacher and peer relationships. Learn about gender support plans and find resources for schools.
Increasingly, schools are providing staff training, supporting GSAs (Gender and Sexuality Alliances) and QSAs (Queer Straight Alliances), and putting policies into place to ensure equitable access to education for gender creative and trans students. Visit the Queer Straight Alliances page for more information. Many preschools and daycares provide staff training and create environments that are supportive of gender exploration and creativity.
Unfortunately, schools can also be a place where children and youth of all ages experience bullying, harassment, and discrimination based on their gender expressions or identities.
The following are some general information related to Gender Support Plans that may be in place in your schools, and resources used by schools.
Whether your child attends a school with a strong history of providing an affirming environment for gender creative and trans students, or one that has no experience, you may need to become an advocate for your child.
A gender support plan helps to create a shared understanding of how the student’s authentic gender will be accounted for and supported at school. See this template from Gender Spectrum. If you will be approaching your child's school to develop a gender support plan here are some suggestions:
- Talk with your child about what kinds of support they would like from the school. Find out if there any issues they are currently dealing with or anticipate will be a problem in the future. Discuss whether or not they would like to be part of the school meeting.
- Find out if the school or district has a policy or procedure in place to support gender creative and trans students.
- Connect with other parents of gender creative and trans students who are part of your school district.
- Identify a contact person you trust who can provide you with guidance about how systems work in your child's school or district. This might be a teacher, counsellor, administrator, diversity liaison, or GSA/QSA sponsor.
- Write down what supports you would like to have put in place and be prepared to explain why they are important for your child.
- If your child is connected with any professionals (e.g. counsellor or physician), consider having them write a letter detailing the kinds of support your child requires.
- Consider bringing a support person with you to the meeting.
Your child's plan should address your child's unique needs. However, there are several issues that commonly come up in school plans:
- Establish who will be aware of your child's gender creative or trans identity and how their privacy will be protected.
- Ensure correct names and pronouns are respected within the school community, and used on school records.
- Ensure access to washrooms and change rooms where your child feels most comfortable.
- Establish how your child will participate in any gender segregated activities.
- Identify one or more contact people within the school your child can go to in case they feel unsafe
- Have a plan in place to provide education for school community members.
Ideally, your school will be affirming, already have policies and procedures in place, and be experienced in providing support to gender creative and trans students. However, it is good to be prepared to provide some education and resources to the school staff. The following resources may be helpful for you to review and share with them.