The recent report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on Transgender Equality pointed to several areas that could improve in terms of transgender awareness and inclusion. One of these areas was in schools who have a role in tackling everyday transphobia. The report notes that schools often do not know how to deal with tansgender issues.
“More needs to be done to ensure that gender-variant young people and their families get sufficient support at school. Schools must understand their responsibilities under the Equality Act. They must abide by their legal responsibility to ensure that all staff receive
sufficient training to ensure they are compliant across all protected characteristics, including that which relates to trans people, especially gender-variant young people. In its review of initial teacher training, the Government should consider the inclusion of training on the protected characteristics.”
Although the report concluded that schools must understand their responsibilities and ensure staff training most will find it difficult to find a good source of such training.
I was recently invited to give some initial information to a meeting of leaders from local secondary schools. There was genuine interest in finding out about the issues that might affect their schools. Some had experience either of gender variant students or staff but generally it was clear that most had little idea about this subject and their responsibilites and liabilities.
As a teacher myself I will continue to offer training to school staff. One of the difficulties is that many see it as simply a PSHE topic and don’t realise that it can affect how they deal with students, issues of bullying, staff retention and parents.