For trans & non-binary young people, school can be a daunting and stressful environment, especially if they’re coming out or transitioning.
To date, schools have had limited access to resources to assist them in supporting their pupils, with no guidance or training available from the Education Authority.
The Education Authority (EA) has however announced that a steering group has been appointed to draw up guidance for schools on how to support their transgender pupils. The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, the Children’s Law Centre and Transgender NI will be among those involved in the putting together of guidance. The group will look at a number of matters faced by schools including name changes, uniform policy and toilet facilities.
The EA has recognised that transgender pupils are faced with specific challenges at school with many subject to high levels of homophobic and transphobic bullying which in turn can have a knock-on effect on a pupils mental health, attendance and attainment.
“In developing the guidance, the EA aims to increase the professional capacity and confidence of staff in supporting transgender children and young people and assist schools and youth services in promoting an inclusive environment where all children feel welcomed, sage and valued.”
It is expected that the guidance for Schools will be made available mid-2019 however no specific date has been provided.
O’Reilly Stewart have assisted a number of Schools with queries about how to support their transgender pupils and the drafting of school policies. Should you have any queries, contact Seamus McGranaghan or Hannah McGrath of the O’Reilly Stewart Education Team.