Teaching




"The task of the modern educator is not to cut 
down jungles but to irrigate deserts
C.S. Lewis

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Education is a keystone to social, political, and economic transformation. All things change, but not all things change equally. 50-60% of trans people commit suicide by the age of 20. These numbers have been going up as more studies are done in the past 10 years. I think we are finally just paying attention. That said, suicide is a dominant cultural narrative for transgender. The message is and remains that there is no future for most of us.

We need to "Make it Better." Most trans people that survive into their 20s (approx. 40% of us) live in poverty, homeless, pressured into sex work to pay for our transitions/self-care, and end up in jail. Our healthcare remains uncovered by most insurance agencies. Getting hired and keeping a job is statistically unlikely. Verbal and physical abuse is guaranteed. January had over a half-dozen murders of trans women of color. One father stabbed his own trans child to death. If you don't kill yourself, there is a significant chance you will be killed by someone else.

These kids are not alone and yet they are forced into solitude. They are made to be alone by those around them. It's not just a matter of getting word to the kids, because they have the internet and they know we exist. We need to reach in and get them out. We need to go in and change things. We need votes. We need money. We need community spaces. We need teachers and parents to look out for our kids. We need to educate our youth, their parents, and the public. We need more narratives and histories taught about transgender that speak beside the grave, next to it, and help us imagine a world where trans lives matter, where we can have livable lives. We need more manifestos.

My partner joined a Transgender Alliance group on Facebook and she has called me crying, "every day someone new says they are planning to commit suicide." This is real. It's an epidemic. It's been going on for a while. I think reaching out is a good thing. We just need to make sure that we take them seriously. They aren't deluded when they see that the world is and will hurt them badly. We need people to hold on to hope, but we need to know what we are asking of them. We are asking them to continue to suffer in often impossible circumstances. When we walk away from the keyboard, turn off Facebook, we leave them to return to that world.

This an epidemic. We need immediate and direct action to save who we can. We also need systematic change, because our arms will never be big enough to carry everyone out

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Introduction Forms
(Example)

At the start of a semester, students fill out a form.
I also fill this out and publish it as an example.
It communicates to them about who I am,
allows me to learn about who they are,
and gets a conversation going about the classroom
as a safe but often uncomfortable space.


Name of Record: ______________________________


Name of Choice: ______________________________


Preferred Pronouns: __________________________


Food Allergies: ______________________________


Accessibility Requests: ______________________________


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Trigger Warnings
(Example)



It is important that we prepare ourselves to discuss the topics in this section with sensitivity and respect for the matters at hand and one another. Each of us come from different backgrounds, we cannot assume what experiences we might share and what topics may be triggering for some.

To help each of us prepare, I would like to forecast that the narratives we will be examining in the next two weeks pertain to the following issues: suicide, domestic abuse, incest, rape, depression, murder, and castration.

Feel invited to write or speak to me before or after class if these topics may be particularly triggering. We can always make accommodations. In general, I invite everyone to proceed in a tone of respect. The texts will often engage in victim-blaming, but let us be able to distinguish between how a text may suggest we understand an act of violence and the tone in which we intend to have it discussed.


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Best Practices for Schools
from: Sylvia Rivera Law Project

These are some ways you can make school a safer and gender affirming place for transgender youth:

• Arrange for transgender awareness training for faculty, staff, and administrators from a qualified community-based trainer. Most people do not receive training or support in transgender awareness throughout their education or professional careers; it is not fair to assume that educators will arrive at their work already having learned the skills they need to work respectfully and effectively with youth from these communities. Transgender awareness trainings are most effective when they are mandatory and regular.

• Incorporate positive information about transgender issues into curricula. The existence of transgender people is often erased or only included in a highly stigmatized way in the teaching of any subject, as well as in media and popular culture. The lack of any positive acknowledgment of transgender issues or history makes it difficult for transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning young people to feel that they have a place in the world and supports a worldview among other students that transgender people do not exist or are an appropriate object of scorn.

• Create gender neutral restrooms. Eliminating sex segregation of facilities can significantly decrease violence and harassment against transgender and gender nonconforming youth. While sex-segregated restrooms or locker rooms exist, however, transgender and gender nonconforming youth should be supported in using whichever facilities they identify as most appropriate for themselves in terms of their gender identity and safety needs.

• If a student talks to you about their gender identity, listen in a respectful and non-judgmental way. Do not brush them off, react with skepticism or disapproval, or pressure them to put themselves in any particular category. Support them in developing their own understanding of their gender and direct them to resources for transgender, gender nonconforming and questioning youth. Do not “out” a young person or disclose their gender identity to another without permission.

• Avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes. Many of us enforce gender norms without even realizing it, but these stereotypes hurt everyone, especially transgender young people, gender nonconforming young people, and young women. Think carefully about the messages in everything you say, do, teach, or communicate about gender. Are you complimenting girls more often on their appearance but boys more often on their athleticism? Do you ever imply there is something wrong with men who behave in stereotypically feminine ways? Do you discipline girls more harshly than you would otherwise if they seem “masculine” or “butch” to you? Does your language ever equate gender (the way people view themselves and express their genders) with genitals (a persons birth sex and anatomical designation) or otherwise imply that the gender identities of transgender people are not “real”?

• Intervene and take action when students use gender-specific terminology to make fun of each other.When students make fun of each other with terms like “sissy,” “pussy,” “faggot,” “dyke,” “homo,” “freak,” “it,” “he-she,” “bitch,” or “gay” and faculty fail to intervene, these words are perceived as acceptable. The use of such language further alienates transgender and gender nonconforming in schools and perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes about gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.

• Create gender-neutral and / or mixed gender spaces. Be mindful about the ways in which single-gender teams and/ or groups (like girls-only groups and boys-only groups) can alienate transgender and gender nonconforming students. Proactively create spaces for transgender and gender nonconforming students within these groups and/or create additional spaces for transgender and gender nonconforming students.

• Always refer to transgender and gender nonconforming students appropriately. Always use students’ preferred names, even if they are different from their legal names, and always use the pronouns that students identify as appropriate for themselves. Correct yourself and others if you or they make a mistake.

• Ensure that employment opportunities at your school are open to transgender and gender nonconforming people. Recruit at transgender focused events, job fairs, locations, and web sites. Ensure that current and prospective employees are not discriminated against or harassed on the basis of gender identity or any other non-job related characteristic.

• Listen to criticism from transgender, gender nonconforming, and questioning students. Take such criticism seriously without becoming defensive; such feedback is an important opportunity to learn and grow.



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What Laws Protect Me at School?
from: National Center for Transgender Equality

The following laws offer protection for trans and gender non-conforming students:


 Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools. The U.S. Department of Education, as well as many courts, have concluded that discrimination or harassment because a person is transgender or gender non-conforming is illegal sex discrimination. Title IX applies to all schools (K-12 and post-secondary) that accept federal funds, including nearly all public schools. Complaints of discrimination or harassment can be filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

• State laws and school district policies in many jurisdictions also explicitly prohibit discrimination in schools based on gender identity or expression as well as sexual orientation. California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington State have such laws, which are enforced by state civil or human rights agencies. Many school districts also have policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression or sexual orientation.

• The Equal Access Act requires all school-affiliated student organizations, such as a Gay- Straight Alliance or Pride Alliance, to be treated equally. This means that schools cannot ban certain types of groups or single them out for worse treatment.

• The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects personal information about students in school records, and in most circumstances prohibits release of this information without consent.

• The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right of students to free speech and freedom of expression, including expression of one’s gender identity.


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Privacy Policies

[It is] absolutely imperative that educators respect students’ right to privacy. Never reveal a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity without the student’s permission—even to the student’s family.

Understand the differences between "coming out" as lesbian, bisexual, or gay and "coming out" as transgender.

"Coming out" to other people as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is typically seen as revealing a "truth" that allows others to know your authentic self. The LGB community places great importance and value on the idea of being "out" in order to be happy and whole. When a transgender person has transitioned and is living as their authentic gender - that is their "truth." The world is now seeing them as their true selves. Unfortunately, sometimes when others discover a person is transgender they no longer see the person as a "real" man or woman - and it can feel disempowering for a transgender person to have that experience. Some people (like Janet Mock) may choose to publicly discuss their lives in an effort to raise awareness and make cultural change. But please don't assume that it's necessary for a transgender person to be "out" to everyone in order to feel happy and whole.

Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and "outing."

Some transgender people feel comfortable disclosing their transgender status to others, and some do not. Knowing a transgender person's status is personal information and it is up to them to share it. Do not casually share this information, or "gossip" about a person you know or think is transgender. Not only is this an invasion of privacy, it also can have negative consequences in a world that is very intolerant of gender difference - transgender people can lose jobs, housing, friends, or even their lives upon revelation of their transgender status.





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Accessibility in the Classroom


Seminars can follow the guidelines of universal design for learning (UDL) by approaching materials from a diversity of presentation styles (visual/audio media, lecture, discussion, public readings, film, books, and hyper-text/media) as well as an array of access technologies (possibilities include: speech synthesizer, real-time captioning, sign language interpretation, note-taking, personal assistance, inclusive wheelchair seating arrangements, scent-free environment, non-strobe lighting, audio description, etc.). A diversity of teaching and technological approaches improves the learning environment by attending to a variety of learning styles.

Laptops are to be used in class only for note-taking purposes. Please be aware that using the Internet or a mobile device could be distracting to other people and could make it difficult for others to concentrate on what’s happening in class.


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