Transgender students guide

Navigating legal issues around transgender students is among the most discussed and rapidly evolving topics in public schools today.

A new, easy to understand resource guide from NSBA answers many of the FAQs needed to support safe learning environments for all students, including transgender students.

A conversation about the guide, which addresses everything from dealing with federal government demands to the importance of working with your community to ensuring student welfare, was the focus of a packed session Sunday at NSBA’s Annual Conference in Boston.

“This is a difficult area for us as lawyers because the law is not clear and varies widely place to play,” said Sonja Trainor, director, NSBA Council of School Attorneys.

Given the shifting legal landscape, “expect (the guide) to be updated twice in the next two months,” Trainor said.

Everyone interested in this subject should have the same goal, ensuring that all students can “be safe and be served,” said Finn Laursen, executive director, Christian Educators Association. But Laurson said he is concerned that “there well could be culture wars” over certain issues related to transgender students in schools. He urged school board members to address policy issues in their communities now “when you can have input.”

We need to be able to work together on this “even though we may come from opposite poles,” he added.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, reminded the audience that “there are transgender students in our schools now who are suffering and need support and help. Students who fall outside expectations of what they should look like are vulnerable” to violence and abuse, she said.

“Schools have lived through how to be welcoming” to all kinds of students and families in the past. That needs to continue to happen, she said.



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