What schools can learn about embracing transgender pupils

Schools have a critical role to play in allowing transgender youth to be affirmed, recognised and respected, says UCT lecturer Ron Addinall.

Addinall, a sexologist and social worker, says the number of transgender learners who are living openly, is on the rise.

Read: Parents urged to help transgender kids flourish

More than 20 schools in Cape Town have made provisions to accommodate the needs of transgender students, including gender-neutral toilets, he says.

Addinall stresses that school policies and practices must allow trans learners to be their authentic selves in the school environment.

Also read: How to empower trans and gender non-conforming children

He explains that an increasing number of Cape schools are now working with clinicians who make recommendations about the social transition at school for trans kids.

There are great developments happening in the Western Cape with schools working together with healthcare professionals in supporting transgender learners.

Ron Addinall, clinical social worker and sexologist based at University of Cape Town

When a young transgender person comes out, to a parent or teacher, they are referred to a healthcare practitioner like myself to provide appropriate assessments and care.

Ron Addinall, clinical social worker and sexologist based at University of Cape Town

Addinall shares expert advice on how schools can help transgender children thrive.

Schools must:

  • be clear that they value and support the rights of trans learners
  • create a safe environment for transgender children to navigate
  • have a zero tolerance for bullying
  • use the chosen name of the learner in the classroom and school environment
  • allow the trans learner to dress according to what they identify with in terms of uniform and hair
  • support trans learners in the sports and social activities they choose to take part in
  • provide access to appropriately safe changing rooms and toilets

Parents are encouraged to seek support from NGOs such as Gender Dynamix, Triangle Project or various Facebook networks like Parents of Trans & Gender-Diverse Kids South Africa or S.A. Parents of GNC, Gender Fluid & Gender Creative Children.

Listen to the full discussion to learn more:


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