Chapter 7
School support for transgender children

Greetings, everyone. We have come to the end of the Master Class series.

This Master Class gives examples of school, college and university policies against discrimination, bullying, and uniforms. It also provides      some ideas for celebrating diversity and social inclusion at the school, college and university. You can refer to the example of a School Policy provided in the resource tab to guide the school, college or university community in creating and     /or revising your own learning institution’s constitution, mission statement, and code of conduct.

It is imperative that all learning institutions should take the lead in creating safe and inclusive environments for all children and adolescents to access their right to education. Research shows that harassment, discrimination and bullying can only be combatted by a systemic whole learning institution approach.

Just as a reminder, the purpose of this Master Class series is to promote a learning environment that treats all students/learners with dignity and respect, and not to necessarily change the value systems of individual stakeholders at the learning institution     .

Summary of Master Class Series

Staff and Students/Learners

Every student/learner should be helped to develop a sense of personal pride and identity in which they are confident, and respectful towards other people’s identities.

Students/Learners are expected to:

  • Immediately report any behaviour that harms others to their teachers, HODs, or Principal.
  • Take reasonable care for the well-being and safety of themselves and other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions.

All members of the learning community have a responsibility to comply with this policy and its procedures and behave in a manner that respects all people. The implementation of this policy and its ongoing monitoring and evaluation is the responsibility of the Wellness and Safety Committee of the learning community. The committee must be known to the students/learners.

The School Governing Body (SGB)

is responsible for ensuring that:

  • The learning institution fulfills its legal responsibilities in upholding respect for human rights.
  • This policy and its related procedures and strategies are implemented, monitored, and reviewed regularly.

All staff members are expected to:

  • Deal with incidents of discrimination that may occur by reporting the incidents directly to the Principal.
  • Promote equal opportunities and good relations amongst all members of the learning community.
  • Incorporate principles of equality and respect for diversity in all aspects of their work.
  • Create teaching lesson plans to include exploration of diversity, and non-discrimination.
  • Promote learning community  activities that respectfully engage with the experiences of people based on gender, sexual orientation, national origin, ‘race’, and religion.
  • Teach respect and appreciation for diversity and equality.
  • Be able to recognise and tackle discrimination, bias, and stereotyping.
  • Provide confidentiality in reporting all forms of harassment and discrimination.
  • Know that harassment and discrimination will result in action.

The School Management Team (SMT) is expected to:

  • Ensure that the policy is implemented.
  • Report to the principal and SGB on matters covered in this policy.
  • Establish competence and awareness regarding wellness and safety of students/learners, staff, and parents.
  • Attend effective communication, and conflict management training.
  • Ensure that all staff and students/learners report potential issues of discrimination immediately.
  • Implement appropriate wellness and safety management systems throughout the learning institution.
  • Adequately train all staff members and students/learners on issues of diversity and the importance of protecting the rights of all from discrimination.
  • Ensure that the policy is communicated to all new staff, students/learners and parents. Take appropriate action in any case of unlawful discrimination.

Promoting social inclusion by celebrating diversity

Social Clubs

Allow students/learners from sexual minorities to form clubs. These clubs can hold discussions about topical issues, perform shows, educate the community about diversity, share LGBTI people’s experiences and celebrate student’s/learners’ talents, and accomplishments.

School Library

Should include books, novels and films with LGBTI characters and themes.

Safe Spaces

Make sure there are known places where children and adolescents can seek help if need be. Often this would be the school counsellor.

Sports

Encourage students/learners of all sexual orientations and genders to participate in sports free from intimidation and teasing. Ensure that all students/learners have an opportunity to be physically active and able to express their sporting abilities and interests. Be sure to have sports that include all genders and allow traditional sports to play in teams of both genders.

Awareness Raising

It is important that the learning institution’s leadership makes an effort to educate the whole learning community about sexual orientation, and gender identity rights.

It is advisable for the learning community to invite members from LGBTI organisations to share information and engage the concerns of individuals as well as respond to questions in an informed and tolerant manner.

It is also beneficial for teachers to include LGBTI perspectives in the classroom and to integrate LGBTI themes into the curriculum where appropriate, and in a respectful manner.

Matric Dance

The school-leaving dance is a coming of age occasion. Students/Learners dress up and invite a partner to join them at a school function. Ensure that all learners feel free to bring any partner to the dance, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Celebrate Diversity and Solidarity

In South Africa we celebrate Human Rights Day on 21 March of each year. In order to celebrate diversity, we can support International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on 17 May.

This day promotes respect for LGBTI people world-wide. We can also join in solidarity with LGBTI people on LGBTI Pride Day. This day celebrates pride in one’s sexual identity.

Let’s work together in creating an all inclusive learning environment for all students/learners.

Thank you for participating in this Master Class series. Please feel free to go to our website and resource tab for more information and downloadable exercises, lesson plan examples, etc.