I am going to admit my own ignorance. When I went to school, I did not know what it meant to be transgender. I had never heard the word. I’m sure there were students at my high school who were transgender but I had no idea. I really had no idea.
My eyes are open now.
Youth are becoming aware that they CAN be themselves, they can come out as who they truly are. And this means more youth are doing just that. This does not mean it’s trendy or that there were no transgender youth before and now there are. It also does not mean that coming out as trans is easy.
In our work in Equity and Inclusive Education, we talk a lot about how to support trans youth. We have documents and policies and workshops and connections. We are prepared to do whatever we can to support these students in our schools. But something is missing. Something that is of great importance. The parents. We know how important parental support is for these youth and we talk about it often. But how do we support parents? What do parents of transgender students need? What do they want? Who can they talk to, contact for support, reach out to?
What do parents need? I asked a parent of a transgender youth this question and she told me the most important thing they need to hear is, “you are not alone.” They need to know that they will be supported and that their children will be supported. They need to have someone to talk to and they need to know how to find such a person. They need to know where to find more information.
I cannot presume to know what it is like to be the parent of a transgender youth. All I can do is reach out and offer support. Below are a number of resources for parents and students. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is somewhere to start. Let’s all work together to share our resources and give students and their families the support that they need.
Creating Positive Spaces for Trans Students: a Guidebook for Administrators, Teachers and Support Staff http://scdsb.on.ca/About%20Us/About%20Us%20Documents/Equity_Inclusive_TransStudents.pdf
Gilbert Centre, Barrie (formerly the Aids Committee of Simcoe County) http://www.acsc.ca/
Egale Canada Human Rights Trust http://egale.ca/
The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity http://ccgsd-ccdgs.org/
Kids Help Phone https://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home/splash.aspx
Teen Legal Help https://www.teenlegalhelpline.org/