An exhaustive and detailed memo from the Toronto District School Board shares ways that teachers and administrators can help students hide their gender transition from their parents. In fact, educators are encouraged and required to hide this information from parents if that's the student's preference.
In a memo called "Guidelines for the Accommodation of Transgender and Gender Independent/Non-Conforming Students and Staff," the Toronto School Board outlines best practices for how teachers should go about facilitating a student's gender transition. These policies have been in effect since 2013.
In the section about "Guidelines for Students," how educators and administrators should deal with a student's privacy is laid out. It reads that "All students have a right to privacy," and that "unless specifically directed by the student, schools must keep a student’s transgender/gender non-conforming status confidential." This includes keeping it confidential from parents and guardians.
It continues, "school staff should not disclose a student's transgender/gender non-conforming status to others unless there is a specific 'need to know,'" which they define as something along the lines of "a specific accommodation request."
The policy tells educators that "Some transgender and gender non-conforming students are not open about their identity at home for safety or other reasons," and that therefore, "A school should never disclose a student's gender non-conformity or transgender status to the student's parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s) without the student’s explicit prior consent." This guidance is in effect for students in kindergarten all the way up through grade 12.
In addition, how educators and administrators deal with the families of secretly gender non-conforming students is elucidated. "When school staff contact the home of a transgender or gender nonconforming student," the memo reads, "the student should be consulted first to determine an appropriate way to reference the student’s gender identity. It is strongly suggested that staff privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in correspondence to the home or at meetings with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s)/caregiver(s)."
Students who identify as transgender are permitted to choose which washroom and sex-specific sports team suits them and their gender identity best.
In the classroom, as well, the school district says that educators must create trans-positive curriculum to best accommodate students who identify as transgender.
"School board and school staff are expected to challenge gender stereotypes and integrate transpositive content into the teaching of all subject areas," the memo states. They further require that "School board and school–based curriculum leaders must integrate trans awareness and trans-positive advocacy training into staff professional development curricula. Librarians must acquire trans-positive fiction and non-fiction books for school libraries and encourage the circulation of books that teach about gender non-conforming people."
These guidelines, the school district notes, are part of their interpretation of the Ontario Human Rights Code. They write that "The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) provides for equal rights and opportunities, and freedom from discrimination. The Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario, in employment, housing, facilities and services, contracts, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.
"People who are discriminated against or harassed because of gender identity are legally protected under the ground of sex. This includes transsexual, transgender and intersex persons, crossdressers, and other people whose gender identity or expression is, or is seen to be, different from their birth-identified sex."
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