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Utah Educators Get Guidance for Supporting Trans Youth

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According to GLSEN, transgender students who face hostile school environments are three times more likely to miss school days than other students. (Barbara LN/Flickr)
According to GLSEN, transgender students who face hostile school environments are three times more likely to miss school days than other students. (Barbara LN/Flickr)
July 12, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the Utah Pride Center want teachers, school administrators and policymakers to consider the experiences of transgender students in the classroom.

The groups are hosting a training session Thursday about creating welcoming learning environments for transgender youth.

Trans or gender-nonconforming young people may not always be ready to lead discussions about their identity.

So Ermiya Fanaeian, an LGBTQ activist with the Utah Pride Center, says it's vital that teachers and school officials do what they can to cultivate supportive situations for all students.

"Trans students cannot be these warriors every day when they're simply trying to show up to gain an education," Fanaeian states.

Research from the organization GLSEN shows a majority of trans students face bullying and hostility at school that can lead to them missing schools days and falling behind academically.

Thursday night’s training for educators at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City will include a panel of trans young people discussing their experiences in Utah schools.

The training session will also include discussions of best practices for school policies.

Fanaeian says establishing clear guidelines can be helpful for teachers and students alike.

"Legal language does propel this culture in schools, it does propel the way certain administrators and certain teachers behave towards trans youth," Fanaeian stresses.

Fanaeian says some of the most important steps educators can take are to listen respectfully to students' needs, and to recognize that trans identity doesn't look the same on every person.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - UT