Personal Review of “How Teachers Can Support Transgender Students”

By Joel Ekdahl

(you can find the original article Joel is responding to here)

This teacher draws upon several sources of knowledge in this article. Firstly, she cites research to show the incongruity between the number of LGBT students and teacher training. More specifically, she says, “90 % of primary and secondary teachers…report having no training to support LGBT students. (George, 2014). This is awful considering that the average secondary school has between 30 and 60 students who identify as LGBTQ. She also uses student interviews to inform her work. She explains that a former student brought her attention to the issue of assigning boy-girl seating plans. She also calls heavily upon her own personal experience in schools. She talks about hearing students say things like “That’s so gay” and/or purposely misgendering trans students. Her strategy is to “assume ignorance rather than bigotry and explain why it is offensive” (2014). Lastly, she talks about the importance of respecting and empowering trans students. She offers the following pieces of advice: Use their chosen names, let them leave class early to use the restroom, and find ways to include Trans writers in the classroom.

The objective of this essay is to help fellow teachers create more safe and inclusive classrooms  for LGBT students. Firstly, Allie George asks students to challenge their assumptions and rethink their pedagogical strategies. A simple maneuver like “boy-girl seating plans” can be really damaging to students who are transgender. Moreover, she teaches other educators how to respectively recognize and challenge transphobia.  Most teachers would either ignore the issue or quickly punish the student, but George suggests a more moderate approach. For her, the best teachers will explain the offense and then establish a zero-tolerance policy on future transphobia. Lastly, she gives a few pieces of advice how to truly support transgender students in your class. 

I think this teacher uses a pseudonym to protect her own identity and the identities of her students. It’s very easy for people to trace a teacher’s name back to a particular school or classroom and this can be dangerous. She may also want to obscure her identity if she is an LGBT-identified teacher working in a conservative district. In some ways, the pseudonym protects her from public and district scrutiny.