SCHOOLS in the Vale of Glamorgan are to be given advice on how to treat transgender pupils as the council looks set to adopt new guidance endorsed by a leading LGBT charity.

The ‘Transgender Inclusion Toolkit’ will to “provide up to date practical

guidance to schools and other settings to support children and young people who are transgender or transgender questioning”, according to council papers.

Schools will be encouraged to consider gender as a “spectrum” and to avoid gender-specific activities where possible.

Transgender pupils should also be able to select a PE group and wear uniforms which match their gender identity according to the guidance, which advises schools on how to tackle prejudice and treat trans young people as equals.

Pupils should also have the right to use toilets and changing rooms which matches their gender identity, according to the guidance, while the use of changing rooms should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the guidance says.

Advice in the toolkit, endorsed by LGBT charity Stonewall Cymru, is set to be adopted in the Vale by the council’s cabinet on Monday (April 30).

It also says schools should:

• “Consider gender as a spectrum and take a non-binary approach to gender”, and that “there is a spectrum of gender which is wider than just male and female”;

• “Avoid where possible gender segregated activities and where this cannot be

avoided allow the child or young person to select the team they prefer (i.e. They might not yet be comfortable with the PE group that matches their gender identity)”;

• “Work on challenging and preventing sexism, homophobia and biphobia” and challenge bullying;

• “Re-think views and practices on gender and identity which have been accepted as ‘standard’ for a long time”;

• Ensure that “no pupil should be made to feel that they are the ones who are causing problems or that they owe anything to their school in return for being treated with the equality they deserve and to which they are legally entitled”.

The advice, put together by five authorities, has already been adopted by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, while Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council has said it intends to adopt the guidance.

The toolkit says schools should allow trans and gender questioning pupils “have the right to dress in a manner consistent with their gender identity or gender expression.”

“Depending on the individual, the choice to begin dressing in the clothes associated with one’s chosen gender can be a very big step and potentially very daunting,” the toolkit says.

“This can often represent one of the earliest stages of transition and is a profound statement of acceptance of one’s identity and commitment to it. In doing so though, these pupils are making themselves more visibly different from much of the school community and effectively ‘outing’ themselves to the rest of the school as trans.

“Care must be taken to ensure that trans identified children and young people are supported fully during this time.”

Schools would also be encouraged to respect a trans pupil’s choice to change their name as “it is a pivotal part of supporting and validating that young person’s identity.”

“It is also important to consistently use preferred pronouns and names in order to protect a child or young person’s confidentiality and to not ‘out’ them in ways that may be unsafe and exposing,” the toolkit says.

Schools would be encouraged to install single stall toilets so they can be used by all.

“Any pupil or student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, should be provided access to a single stall toilet, but no pupil or student shall be required to use such a toilet,” the guidance says.

“Ideally schools would provide single stall toilets that can be used by all. Some schools have already begun to use this system with success. If need be, a member of staff or designated pupils or students can be allocated as ‘toilet monitor’ during break times to ensure that pupils and students feel safe while using the facilities.

“Some cisgendered females, however, have expressed concerns about these toilets and the fact others might know they have their periods because of time spent in the toilet. There may be a case for also exploring how this range of needs can be met.”

The guidance says that in most cases, trans pupils should be able to access changing rooms which matches their gender identity, and says refusing this would be an act of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

“Any pupil or student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, should be provided with a reasonable alternative changing area such as the use of a private area,” the guidance says.

PE teachers would be encouraged to plans their lessons so trans pupils, especially young trans women, are not at a competitive advantage.

On residential trips, schools would be encouraged to allow trans pupils to sleep in dorms appropriate to their gender identity.

Schools would also be encouraged to provide counselling for trans pupils going through medical transition.

Councillor Bob Penrose, Vale of Glamorgan Council’s cabinet member for learning and culture, wrote in the guide: “At the Vale of Glamorgan, we want all of our children and young people to feel safe and happy. Learning can only take place when young people feel that their needs are being met.

“Many of the schools in the Vale of Glamorgan have excellent initiatives and policies in place to tackle bullying. This Transgender Inclusion Toolkit and Guidance will strengthen that and enable schools to further embed the good work they are doing in this area.”