Updated: Jul 8, 2020
I found out 2 weeks ago that in September I'll have a child with gender dysphoria in my class. Initially I thought nothing of it. I'll make contact with the parent as I do with every other family and just check what pronouns I'm using. It was a great chat, but then right at the end I was asked a question I wasn't expecting.
'Will they be accepted for who they are, because... you know, it's a Catholic school"
I nearly laughed, and said, 'are you kidding me?' Thankfully, within a milli-second, my brain kicked in before my mouth. I reassured them that they had nothing to worry about and we would do everything we could to support them. I had been abruptly reminded that people still have this huge misconception that all Catholics hate anyone identifying as LGBTQ+. Sadly, because of the label we have, people presume things about us. Something both communities have in common.
I've done so much research on gender dysphoria and transgender children in the last 2 weeks and received a wealth of support from complete strangers on Twitter. I know I can't begin to support this child until I educate myself and in doing so, doors have opened to me. I'm now working with an incredible group of people on the LGBTQ Early Years Campaign. We're creating free resources for settings to use to promote diversity and equality in the Early Years. Starting with the roots of society, our future generation.
For those of you furrowing your brow wondering if this is needed in the Early Years, think about those children with same sex parents, those children who don't fit neatly under societies labels and all of the LGBTQ+ members of staff who have faced abuse and prejudice. My passion lies with open and honest conversations at an age appropriate level. Shying away, ignoring certain topics and not educating our children will only cause more harm than good. That's not an option. Ironically, it's the children of today who are educating their parents on how to be accepting.
Alongside my vow to educate myself to support this child, I've also promised to do all I can to promote our setting as a diverse and inclusive school. I don't want people to have to ask the question 'will my child be accepted for who they are,' ever again. It has opened my eyes to be more proactive and to practise what I preach. Be kind and and spread the love!
Frances - T