School life should get a little easier for students in South Australia who identify as transgender or intersex after the state introduced new policies with guidelines on how these students should be accommodated for during their school years.
A new policy from the Education Department outlines the rights of trans and intersex students at all public schools, saying they can:
- Use their preferred name and pronoun;
- Use the toilets and change rooms that match their gender identities;
- Choose which school uniform they would like to wear;
- Choose their sleeping arrangements at school camps based on which gender they identify with;
- And participate in PE lessons and most sports as the gender they identify with.
Ann-Marie Hayes, the executive director of statewide services and child development from the Education Department, said, “We had a number of queries from schools and parents, and we needed to make it very clear what our legislative requirements were and how schools enact them – supporting principals in particular but also families in what they can expect from schools.”
The policy’s goal is also for all students and families to be more understanding and accepting, as Ms. Hayes added, “This is a particular group that we know get quite bullied and harassed. The message we are giving to peers here is we don’t support homophobia and transphobia in a school setting.”
If a transgender student’s parents do not agree with the policy, the schools will “assess the best interests of the child to ensure their physical and psychological safety and wellbeing.”
And in case any student tries to be sneaky and takes advantage of the policy, e.g. a boy trying to get into the girls’ sleeping quarters during camp, Ms. Hayes said it only applied to students whose gender identity had been confirmed by health professionals.