New policy ensures consistent treatment for transgender students

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The Gay Flag
The White House announced on Tuesday that it plans to work on new directives regarding the use of school bathrooms by transgender students. Flickr Creative Commons/Torbakhopper

A new Education Department policy has clearly detailed how transgender school students should be accommodated in public schools.

The new SA guideline allows transgender pupils to use names of their choice, utilise the toilet that matches their gender identity and be addressed by their preferred pronoun (she, he, or they). 

The policy also allows transgender students to wear all kinds of uniforms available at school.“Inflexible” dress codes are made clear to be infringing anti-discrimination laws.

Transgender students can also choose to sleep with pupils of the gender they identify with during school camps. This policy only applies to transgender students whose gender identity had been discussed with parents and confirmed by health professionals.  

The protocol will ensure that no boy could pretend to be a transgender and be able to sleep in girls’ dormitories in school camps.

The department said the new policy will guarantee that school leaders provide “consistent” treatment to transgender students.

“The difference is that this clearly articulates what we require from schools,” executive director of child development Ann-Marie Hayes told The Advertiser.

With this, schools can “assess the best interests of the child to ensure their physical and psychological safety and wellbeing” in case they desire to “affirm their identity” clashes with their parents, Hayes said.

Jill Davidson, chief executive of SHine SA, said bullying of transgender students had “a significant impact on wellbeing, school attendance and educational outcomes.” 

According to Human Rights Commission, 80 percent of bullying involving young transgenders occurs at school and has a profound impact on their well-being and education.

However, Roslyn Phillips, former research officer for Family Voice Australia, said a lot of young people “who felt they should be the opposite sex grow out of it if schools and doctors did not encourage it.”

“It’s a real problem to single out these children and treat what they think (they are) as real,” she said.