Tuesday, November 15, 2016

‘I’m a Normal Kid’: Transgender Students Thrive in Supportive Schools

‘I’m a Normal Kid’: Transgender Students Thrive in Supportive Schools:

‘I’m a Normal Kid’: Transgender Students Thrive in Supportive Schools

transgender students

(To protect the rights, privacy, and safety of the people interviewed for this story, NEA Today has altered or change their names. Only one source specifically asked to be identified.)
MJ, a 14-year-old teen from Virginia, was up late one evening. It was March, 2016, and he was watching YouTube videos, trying to learn if “this is a real thing.” The more he watched, the more he realized he needed to tell his mother something. He stepped into her room and woke her with these six words, “Mommy, I feel like a boy.”
Prior to this night, MJ went by another name and was referred to with female pronouns. But the stress of his birth-assigned sex weighed heavily on him. “It was building in my chest, I felt heavy, like I was carrying something 24/7.”
When he shared his gender identity with his mom, he was slightly worried about what she would think. “We never talked about that kind of stuff,” he says, but he knew she was open-minded.
While his mother acknowledged that she didn’t really know what feeling like a boy meant, she fully supported MJ. “He knows I would move mountains to make sure he gets his needs met,” she says.
So far, moving mountains has been unnecessary. MJ has a supportive system at school.

Doing What’s Right For Students

The teen’s high school is in an exurban community in Virginia—a high-income, homogenous, and conservative town too big to be rural, too small to be suburban.
The pale school building stretches across a few blocks of farmland. Within its walls, however, educators are boldly answering the call to include and uphold the rights of transgender students.
While the school has no official policy for transgender students, administrators and educators have adopted informal practices designed to respect MJ’s gender identity.
“My school does what’s right for students,” says a 20-plus year educator who asked ‘I’m a Normal Kid’: Transgender Students Thrive in Supportive Schools:


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