Local Therapist Advises Schools on Transgender & Gender Nonconforming Accommodations
Earlier this month, President Obama ordered public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. A local therapist is advising schools in other ways they can accommodate transgender and gender nonconforming students.
Abigail Garner is a clinical social worker with Delta Behavioral Health. She works in private practice as a therapist where she sees predominantly transgender adolescents. She’s worked with the area’s two early colleges to ensure that teachers know how to approach and respect transgender and gender nonconforming students:
“What I found for the most part is teachers want to do well by their students, but this is really new to basically everyone. So, a common thing I hear is a teacher will be like, ‘Well, I think they might be trans because I kind of hear that their other friends use a different name, but I don’t know if they want me to use that name. I don’t know if they want to be out to everybody.’ And they don’t know that it’s okay to go up to a kid and ask them what their name and pronouns are. That contact, that’s respect.”
Garner says that schools can become more accommodating by including protections for LGBTQ students in their bullying policy. In addition, Garner says gender nonspecific dress codes enable all students to follow the same rules, regardless of their gender identity.