The School Report Shows Trans Kids are Being Failed
Today, Stonewall released its report into the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people. For anyone who works with trans young people and children the results are shocking, but sadly not unsurprising. Working with the Cambridge Center for Family Research over 3700 young people were spoken too. There is some positive news in that bullying of lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people has fallen, although almost half still report having been bullied for their sexual orientation. However, when it comes to trans young people the picture is very different.
- 84% of trans young people have self harmed
- 45 % of trans young people have attempted suicide
- 9% of trans young people have received death threats in school
- 46% of trans young people frequently hear transphobic language at school
These are simply some of the headline statistics from the research, and they are all linked. If a trans child or young person feels safe, and supported, they will thrive. The experience of many is very far from this however. Schools could be a space where gender diverse young people are able to express their identity, and some are, but it is still the case that many are failing their pupils.
- 33% of trans young people are not called by their correct name at school
- 58% of trans young people are not allowed to use the correct toilets for their gender at school
- 64% of trans young people had been bullied at school
- 44% of trans young people say staff at their school did not know what trans means.
- 69% of trans young people reported that schools did not say transphobic bullying is wrong.
These two sets of statistics are connected. The attitude to trans pupils is set from the top. Of course all bullying is wrong, and pupils need to be educated about their LGBTQ classmates, and anti-bullying policies implemented which include a zero tolerance approach to LGBTQ bullying. However, many trans children and young people are being harmed by the very policies and procedures of the schools they attend. The lack of training and competency among staff compounds this.
When we work with schools we find there is a great desire to be better, but often there is a lack of knowledge and a fear of upsetting the non trans school body. Schools can be unaware of their duties under the Equalities Act, and have picked up misinformation from a media which has over the past few years presented trans people as threatening and dangerous. One of the most important things we know however is that by having training led and delivered by trans people we start to break down and challenge the barriers and assumptions which have built up.
Working with young people, their families, and schools the outcomes, and experiences of trans young people can be changed. We know this because we see it happening all the time. However, the work needs to be ongoing, and built into the curriculum. All staff, not just those who might currently have a trans pupil need to be trained and a culture which celebrates and nurtures all students, including trans ones, built up.
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