Schools told they should give transgender pupils a cake to celebrate their transition
Schools have been told they should give transgender pupils a cake to celebrate their “transition”, as experts warn that teachers must be trained to deal with an “explosion” of students who no longer identity with their sex.
Delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference this week were told that changing attitudes have resulted in a "huge" surge in the number of transgender and non-binary people coming forward.
“Five years ago, hardly anyone in school or in university would come across a young trans person, but it’s changed substantially,” said Terry Reed, a campaigner for transsexual rights who co-founded the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES).
She told teachers that they must send an “upbeat” message to pupils who no longer identify with their birth sex. She advised that schools should mark the transitioning of a transgender pupil with “celebratory” events such as marking the announcement of their new name with a cake, the Times Education Supplement reported.
“It doesn’t have to be cake, it’s just making it an upbeat, ‘we’re absolutely behind you and with you’ message immediately, so that it doesn’t get downbeat,” she added.
Ms Reed, who set up GIRES with his husband Bernard after fighting a landmark legal battle for their transsexual daughter, said that teachers should introduce transitioning pupils to their new toilet facilities.
“If there are still boys’ and girls’ toilets and she’s going to be using the girls’ toilets, it’s quite helpful just to familiarise her before that actually happens," she said.
"Take her in when there’s nobody else there and let her look around so that she feels familiar with the surrounding.” Ms Reed said the parents of other children are far more likely to cause difficulties than the pupils themselves.
“If other parents are going to be told, this is a much trickier issue – parents are always the worry aren’t they? The kids are okay.”
“If they’re going to be told again it needs to be done in a positive, well informed way.” She said that teachers should "dissuade parents that this is not catching".
"It is true that sometimes the children will copy the other [trans] children for fun, just to experiment a bit, but if they’re not trans it’s not going to stick," she said. Ms Reed urged schools to avoid separating boys and girls where possible to achieve “gender blurring”.
In sport, she said “no distinctions are necessary” before puberty, and schools should take a “common sense” approach after this stage based on “fairness and risk”. She also advised schools to “think about how to put transgender” on the curriculum, and make clear there is “zero tolerance for transphobic behaviour”.