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Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth

Schools, Families, and Communities in Action, Revised Edition


Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon

Supporting Transgender and Gender-Creative Youth brings together cutting-edge research, social action methods, and theory on the topic of transgender youth and gender creative kids. The chapters included specifically address issues in education, social work, medicine, and counseling as well as challenges and recommendations for families and parents. It is well researched and accessible to a broad audience of individuals invested in improving the social worlds of gender diverse children and youth.
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Chapter Five: Supporting Gender Diversity in Schools: Developmental and Legal Perspectives

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When working with gender-creative and transgender youth in the school setting, it is important for professional educators to be aware of the developmental and legal issues involved in order to guide their decision making and efforts at providing support. Since no child’s gender journey is the same (Ehrensaft, 2011), and each school community is unique in many ways, the guiding developmental and legal principles offered in this chapter are intended to provide a framework for professionals to work within in order to provide safe and supportive learning environments for all youth. The first part of this chapter addresses key issues framed in a child-centered developmental approach, and the second half focuses on legal concerns in both Canada and the United States. Before we can effectively address these areas, we would like to provide the reader with some background information concerning what is currently known about the experiences of gender-nonconforming and transgender youth in schools.

In 2009, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network published the first national study on the experiences of transgender youth in schools. In their report, Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in our Nation’s Schools (Greytak, Kosciw, & Diaz, 2009), they found that 89% of transgender youth are verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened), 55% are physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved), and 28% had been physically assaulted. In 2011, a Canadian study reported ← 69 | 70 →74% of trans* students experience verbal harassment about their gender expression, and 37%...

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