How to support your trans and nonbinary students

How to support your trans and nonbinary students

As teachers, it's our job to make sure every student feels welcome and valued, including our trans and nonbinary learners. Here are a few tips for creating a classroom culture where all students feel supported, seen, and valued:

Use inclusive language
It's important that we are mindful with our language. Instead of saying "boys and girls," try saying "students" "y'all" "friends" or "everyone." Find even more fun alternatives in our "inclusive alternatives" series on Instagram. When referring to adults, simply use "your adults" or "your grownups" rather than assuming kids are living with a mom and dad, or parents in general.

Create a welcoming classroom environment
Decorate your classroom with signs and symbols that show you support trans and nonbinary students. This can make them feel safe and happy from the first day, and it also opens up learning experiences and potential conversations for other students.

Share your pronouns
When we share our own pronouns, it helps normalize talking about and respect everyone's pronouns. You can also invite students to share their own pronouns that they'd like the class to use when referring to them.

Don't assume pronouns
We can't tell someone's pronouns by looking at them. It's good practice to make space for students to tell us their pronouns if they are comfortable doing so.

Apologize and learn
If you use the wrong pronoun by mistake, simply apologize, repeat what you said with the correct pronoun, and move on. Don't make a long drawn out apology, but don't brush past it either. It can be as simple as "she said... sorry, I mean they said" and then carry on. It shows we respect the person enough to get their pronouns right, while not embarrassing them or drawing unneeded attention to the original misgendering.

Highlight trans and nonbinary peoples' success and joy
Let's talk more about the happy and successful stories of trans people! Adding books and stories about the achievements, successes, and joys of trans and nonbinary people can inspire all students. Not every story about gender identity should be about struggle and oppression.

Let students explore who they are
Our classrooms should be safe places for students to discover themselves. Encouraging this exploration shows we support them no matter what.

Maintain student privacy
If a student shares something personal with us, like their identity, we should keep it private unless they say it's okay to share. This keeps their trust and makes them feel safe. If a student shares pronouns, a chosen name, gender identity, or other information with you in private, be sure to ask who you can use that around. For example, "are you okay with me using these pronouns/this name for you in front of your family? your classmates?"

Teach about diversity
When kids say things like "pink is for girls," we can turn it into a lesson about how colors and clothes are for everyone. Teaching about diversity helps all students understand and respect each other better.

With these small steps, we can help make sure that every student feels like they belong and can be themselves in our classroom.

Do you want to make sure you are fully supporting your LGBTQ+ students this school year? Join our free mini-course to learn how you can better support your trans and nonbinary learners. Sign up here.

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