Talking with Families
Talking with Families
What can schools do to support families?
Teachers and schools do not have to be experts on gender diversity and inclusion in order to effectively support all students. The key actions that schools and teachers can take that will help students with conversations with their families are:
- Have a school policy that clarifies that all transgender, non-binary and gender exploring students will be welcome, included and respected at school. This should include statements about equality, safeguarding and anti-bullying. Make sure that this policy is available to families and that a member (or members) of staff at school are available to answer any questions or to explain the policy to families.
- Conversations about gender identity might be very difficult for families and cause stress for students. Therefore students may need a safe space at school where they feel accepted and can be themselves. This would ideally be the entire school, but might also be a specific group or teacher who students can go to and talk to about how they are doing.
- Be ready to signpost parents to more resources and information. There are organisations who are experts in supporting transgender, non-binary and gender exploring youth and their families and who can give them the information and support they need to learn more.
Schools should recognize that some families of students who are transgender, non-binary or gender exploring may be scared for their child, disappointed or concerned that their child will be bullied or have a difficult life. These are among the many reasons that families may not immediately be supportive of a student who identified as transgender, non-binary or who is gender exploring. This is why it is important to signpost families to information and resources, and also why it is so important that schools are supportive of students with unsupportive families.
Another way to build understanding and support from families is by involving some of them in the development of policy, or inviting them to give feedback about policy in order to open a conversation about inclusion. Sharing with families any changes the school is making to be more inclusive and making sure that families can access the information sent by the school are also good ways to support families to get on board with inclusion at school.
Organisations supporting families of transgender, non-binary or gender exploring students
Most importantly, provide students and families with information about organisations where they can learn more and get support. These four organisations are the first place that families of transgender, non-binary or gender exploring students should be sign-posted to:
Mermaids: Started by a group of parents, Mermaids has been supporting transgender, non-binary and gender diverse youth and their families since 1995 across the UK. They have resources specifically for parents and families.
Gendered Intelligence: Is a UK wide charity that has been working since 2008 to improve the lives of trans people and increasing understanding of gender diversity. They provide support for youth as well as families. They also have a guide for Young Trans People and their families available. https://genderedintelligence.co.uk/projects/kip
FFLAG: A voluntary organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQI+ people and their families. They have a branch in Wales. Started by parents and families. They have a guide for families of someone who is transgender. https://www.fflag.org.uk/my-childs-transgender/
Stonewall Cymru: Campaigning and supporting LGBTQI+ people and communities in Wales. Stonewall can provide resources and information to families and schools. https://www.stonewallcymru.org.uk/
Umbrella Cymru: A specialist organisation that provides tailored support with gender and sexual identity, diversity, equality and inclusion. https://www.umbrellacymru.co.uk/