It is not news to any of us that children are teased and bullied on a daily basis because of their outward appearance. Those who do not conform to these gender norms become at risk for bullying or worse.
The good news is that a societal shift is in motion. The former societal, medical and mental health approach was that if the child doesn’t fit, we need to change the child. Research now shows us that this approach was both harmful to children and to their communities.
The current accepted approach is to support the children in who they are. If a child has had one supportive adult in his or her life, which could be a teacher or school counselor, the risk factors I mentioned decrease considerably.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction provides guidelines for schools with regard to challenges such as bathroom usage, changing areas, use of preferred name and gender pronouns, and confidentiality of school records.
Policies and procedures that affirm the child’s gender identity, such as those regarding bathroom usage, may make people nervous. With education around these issues, we learn to see a transgender girl who wants to socialize in the girl’s bathroom with other girls.
Our children are looking to us on how to respond. Washington state is a leader in so many ways already. This is the next natural step in our progression towards equality.