When schools have knowledge, confidence and skills to accommodate different gender identities in the classroom, young people achieve better outcomes.
This was central message of a recent conference held in Waterford around ‘Transgender Awareness in Schools’. The conference was a joint initiative between the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and Waterford Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC) and funded by Healthy Ireland. It was attended by principals, teachers, support personnel, psychologists, community workers and youth workers. Over 180 people attended this very successful event which provided much thought provoking and practical information from professionals in the field.
Vanessa Lacey, Health and Education Manager with Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) said: “TENI’s approach to trans issues is a holistic one and includes advocating for legislative reform, improved health care outcomes, a compassionate educational environment and direct support for families. Facilitating a change in social attitudes to trans people and their families is also an integral part of this ‘wrap-around’ approach”.
The conference was opened by Kayden, a young person who is driven to make change for young people in the region and at national level. His contribution highlighting the life experience of young Trans people and provided insight and context to a day focused on promoting inclusion and the development of a supportive environment within the education sector.
Speakers at the conference included: Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Aileen Murtagh, discussing Gender Variance and Dysphoria: Associated Mental Health and Medical Issues; Dr Michael Redmond of the Joint Managerial Body for Voluntary Secondary Schools on Supporting Transgender Students at Secondary School – Pastoral, Ethos and Policy; and Dr Aoife Neary of the School of Education, University of Limerick, who presented the findings from her research – Gender transitions in Primary schools, the first report regarding the experiences of parents and teachers. Catherine Cross, Family Support and Education Officer, TENI and Dr. Tanya Ni Mhuirtle, DCUp