How to Support a Transitioning Child
Note: Every child and every situation is different, the most important thing is to follow their lead!
If a child in your class is already in the process of transitioning from one gender to another or expresses to you or another adult a desire to transition or experiment with their gender identity, it is important for you to take certain steps to keep the student safe.
If your student or their caregivers haven’t already made it clear, ask the student privately: 1. What name and pronouns would you like me to use for you during school?
2. What name and pronouns would you like your classmates and other teachers to use? (Sometimes it’s different). 3. If the students’ name/pronouns have recently changed: Would you like me to let the class and other teachers know your name and pronouns?
4. If it feels appropriate and you aren’t sure, you can ask, What name and pronouns do you use with your adults at home?
5. For older students, to ensure their privacy and safety at home, if it feels appropriate you can ask: If the nurse or I ever have to talk to your adults, which name and pronouns should we use?
Gender Support Plan Implementing an optional Gender Support Plan (view a template here) can be helpful to ensure a safe, healthy, and happy experience for your student while at school. You may plan this with caregivers or just school colleagues and your principal. Treat a support plan like an IEP: hold others accountable and only share it with predetermined parties.
Address school routines 1. School forms: Are there spots for adults/children to indicate pronouns, birth name for school records and preferred name/nickname, sex assigned at birth and gender identity. If the student or caregivers desire, ensure that all labels and school forms are changed to reflect the students' name, gender, and pronouns. Don't forget things such as computer logins, school lunch cards, bus cards and library cards. 2. Consider sharing pronouns as a new routine. Model your pronouns on nameplates/name tags and encourage students to do the same. Before you address a new adult, model asking them what pronouns they use, or share your own in your greeting. “Hi, I’m ____ and I use they/them pronouns.” 3. Does the student have a safe, comfortable place to use the bathroom? Address this privately and discreetly with the child and/or their caregivers.
During class, model inclusive behavior and language Remember to support your entire class in inclusive practices. When you use the wrong pronouns for a student, model quickly saying “Oops, I mean ___,” or simply correcting: “She - he - was telling me today that…” Include books with kids of all genders and races in your read alouds (see our book list for suggestions sorted by grade). Use inclusive language to address your students (Friends, ___ graders, mathematicians, leaders, y’all, and students are some options).
Is your school resistant? If your school is resistant to changing school registration forms or official documents, refer to this Model District Policy. You might also refer to this model district policy in California. You could also follow the guidance of the California School Boards Association, found here.
Have any additional questions or concerns? Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.