Seeking transparency : teachers’ understanding of transgender youth within school district #42 Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows
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This research project explores teachers’ understandings of transgender students’ needs, support networks, and integration into the public high school system within School District #42: Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. Specifically, research addressed the institutional expectations and personal and professional pre-conceptions teachers have with regards to creating an inclusive school culture for transgender youth. Qualitative interviews were conducted to ascertain educators’ awareness of LGBTQ inclusive district and Ministry of Education policy and teachers,’ assessment of how inclusive their respective schools were, and an examination of the barriers impeding teachers from building safe spaces for trans youth. While most teachers acknowledged improvement in their schools’ acceptance of transgender students, there are many gaps apparent in universal understanding. Teachers are unclear of how to best accommodate and include trans youth within the exhaustive and changing curriculum, classroom practice and parental involvement, and general framework of their institutional environment which places impetus on administration to lead inclusion directives. Celebration of LGBTQ youth was evident at all high schools; however, a move from celebration to full inclusion has yet to occur. The interview findings also revealed a lack of professional development for educators that specifically pertains to supporting transgender students. Teachers are left somewhat stalled in moving toward a truly inclusive school culture that honours transgender students.