Need advice on dealing with trans student
Keeping this as anonymous as possible because it’s a controversial issue and am looking for other viewpoints.
I have a pupil (KS3) in my form group class who’s recently revealed they are trans. Although I’m all about inclusivity, this particular student likes to be a comedian, is a bit strange and I have doubts that their intentions are legitimate. They have changed their appearance at school in recent weeks, albeit in a minor way, and I’ve overheard them joking about it with other students.
I’ve spoken to them personally and asked if they have disclosed this to their parents and was met with a frantic response that they wouldn’t understand, and they will tell them in their own time. Current school guidance is that I should be accomodating which I’m all for, use preferred pronouns (although this has been met with surpressed laughter when I do it) and I’ve received mixed messaging on parent disclosure.
My absolute first priority is to ensure that I do not raise this with parents who may, god forbid, take it out on the child and have any harm come their way. It's also worth noting that I haven't had any meaningful prior communication with this students parents before.
Without any clear guidance I’m at a loss and worry about the balance between safeguarding children who legitimately feel this way and those that will seek to take advantage of it, for whatever reason. I feel we should all have a legitimate concern that we could potentially be handing over too much power to an individual student in an area where they cannot be challenged. No real idea on how other teachers feel about this particular student and the issue in general as it's becoming a taboo subject within the school with not much top down instruction.
Was hoping to get some advice from anyone on here on how to proceed, or if I should even be getting involved at all, hoping to have a chat with SLT and our safeguarding lead about it before we break up for summer.
I get the concern but remember everyone's gender identity should be treated as valid, and that includes this student. Even if you have doubts about their intentions, it's important to treat them with respect and continue to use their preferred pronouns.
I would recommend speaking to your SLT and safeguarding lead as soon as possible to get some clear guidance, definitely before you break up so your school approach is clear for next term. You should also talk to the student again and re-iterate the idea of talking to their parents over the holidays. If they say no, you should respect their wishes, at least until the government decide on if they want to "compel" us or not...
You're right to be aware of the potential risks to the student. I would stay well away until you speak to your safeguarding lead.
It's also possible that the student might start next year with a completely different mindset...
Here are some resources that you may find helpful:
I hope this helps.
It's a difficult situation, and there are no easy answers.
Unless there are serious safeguarding concerns regarding the parents involved, they should always have the right to know what is going on with their child. Frankly, any parent that would physically or mentally harm their son/daughter for "coming out" should have them taken away, which is a matter for local authorities. How much responsibility can we possibly take on?
What if the parent phoned you and asked? What would you say, would you lie? Their children are theirs and until we have full guidance on the issue this will always be a minefield.
My opinion aside, escalate this to your safeguarding lead to deal with.
Above everything else, our priority is the children and their wellbeing. It sounds like you are being very accomodating already and trying to encourage student to be themselves! I think it would be best to ask SLT and refer to guidance to cover yourself professionally. We are teaching in a world now with constant changes and with our job, that always means new guidance!
My school use a PSHE scheme called SCARF and it covers a range of topics that invite the children to discuss and join in with activities which also covers Sex Ed and trans if that can help you!
Would wait for solid guidance but I for one wont be telling parents if this ever comes up, massive breach of safeguarding. All students have the right to express themselves how they wish and compelling us to tell parents is us going backswards not forwards.
We can't end up in a situation where we're forced to out students to parents who may be potentially homophobic or even violent. This particular case might differ slightly, but we all should respect the wishes of the student even if you question their motivations.
I think any forced compliance in this area or "guidance" from the government will be met by a lot of outrage and rebellion from teachers who naturally hold student safety as their first priority.