Parenting trans, genderqueer or gender non-conforming youth can often involve a great deal of concern and stress around their wellbeing at school.  Below are some strategies for engaging your school community and communicating with School Resource Officers to work towards building a safe and more inclusive school for all youth. (http://www.mygsa.ca/educators/setting-the-stage)

Engage with your child

Communication is one of the most important tools in easing your child’s transition and/or coming out process.  They may not want to talk about their identity all the time (and neither may you) but it’s important that you let them know that they have your support and love.  Encourage your child to come to you for support whenever they may feel unsafe, disrespected or discriminated against at school or in the community.  Make yourself available for conversation. (http://www.mygsa.ca/parents/parenting-lgbt-child/your-trans-child-what-other-parents-want-you-know)

Engage with the school community

Focus on building strong and positive relationships with your child’s teachers.  Depending on your child’s development, and their wishes, it may be important to meet with all of your child’s teachers and express to them the significance of openly respecting and supporting your child’s gender identity and gender expression.  Work with them to prepare strategies for creating and maintaining positive classroom environments in the face of possible bullying or harassment that your child and other members of LGBTQ community in the school may face.  As well, consider reaching out to your school or board/district’s equity officer, if they have one, for further support and resources, including RHVP materials in many communities. (http://www.mygsa.ca/educators/creating-inclusive-school)

Engage with other parents

Finding allied parents within the school community and beyond can make for a great support network, as well as a good team to help create a safe and more inclusive school community for trans students.  Existing groups for parents of LGBTQ children might be another supportive community to connect with (for instance, PFLAG Canada).  Consider connecting with people who do not identify within the spectrum of LGBTQ identities but are allied in the creation of safe and more inclusive school communities.  (http://www.mygsa.ca/parents/parenting-lgbt-child/connecting-local-queer-families)

Engage with local LGBTQ communities

Reaching out to local LGBTQ organizations like community groups or healthcare organizations can be a great way to help address some of your questions and concerns.  Volunteering with a local organization, like your local branch of PFLAG Canada, can be a great way to indicate your support to your child, as well as allowing you to meet and interact with members of the trans community.  National organizations like Egale Canada, MyGSA.ca, the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) and others may be able to provide you with resources for you personally, as well as for the school community.  No matter where you are in the world, you, your children and your family are not alone!