This report is a vital step towards improving mental healthcare and healthcare generally for trans persons – Please take the time to read and share it.
Included in the preface is a link to the story of Amber Maxwell, a young woman who wrote about her life in Western Australia shortly before she died, another victim of our failure to address trans healthcare needs.
Life gets away from us and this project has taken a bit longer than I planned, but so far our email has been sent to nearly a hundred schools and the initial responses have been encouraging.
I have always thought that educators drawn to working with young people have an inherent compassion and kindness above and beyond the rest of us mere mortals ~ I love being proven right about that.
School staff work so hard and face so many challenges, I really appreciate everybody taking the time to read our email and caring so much about our GLBTIAQ+ sprogs. It really is heartwarming.
I swear there are some invisible onions being cut in my house today.
I’ve been trying to find words since I read the heartbreaking and tragic story of Leelah Alcorn last night. I want to say things, but I don’t know quite how.
It’s all just so damned unnecessary.. Her pain, her loneliness.. her death. Bah.. I have no words. It’s just so very sad. Such an articulate young woman, she said it – This is not good enough. We need to fix it. We’re failing our kids.
I wish I knew the way to explain to parents that they don’t own their children, that they aren’t the ones that get to choose who their children grow up to be, or what they believe or how they express themselves or what they do with their lives. What you do get a say in is how your sprog experiences their world and family – You get to choose whether or not they are shamed for who they are and you get to choose whether or not they feel safe and loved and cherished and accepted.
This is a really easy decision.
To any sprogs out there who can relate to Leelah, who feel the same hopelessness, I wont try to placate you with “It gets better”. But it CAN. I’m begging you, please don’t take the out that Leelah chose. Please give us another chance. There ARE people out here who care and who want to help you make things better. We WILL make things better.
If there is nobody else to turn to, message Kai and I and we will try and help you source local support resources. Please hang in there, baby.
We’re still reeling from the response that we’ve had from people on social media around the world.
A lot of it has brought us to tears and I need to find time to go and get some more tissues. There have been messages from other teens who tell us that they don’t feel so alone anymore and from parents and grandparents who say they’ve been inspired to reach out to estranged family members. Please do! – omg, go and hug your sprogs. Right now.. Squeeze them til they pop.
Kai graduated high school last year after having rather a hard time – there is definitely not enough support for GLBTIA sproggets in too many schools and we want to do something about that – we’ve written this email to send to our local schools and we would love it if you would forward it to your local schools too. Please pass it along.
To the Principal, the head cheese, the person in charge,
It is statistically probable that there exists in your school population a group of students (and staff) who identify, or who will identify under a GLBTIA umbrella (Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or asexual).
Unfortunately, it is also statistically likely that many of them will experience bullying, depression, suicidal ideation, as well as become victims of violence and sexual assault at some point in their lives – sproggets in this group are disproportionately represented in statistics of this sort. School can be a very difficult place for people who are not heterosexual and cisgender (who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth).
A policy of inclusion and acceptance can go a long way towards reducing the confusion and angst that these young people feel while trying to figure out just where they fit in the world – witnessing loving acceptance from teachers, mentors and authority figures and strict non-tolerance of GLBTIA bullying is also a huge part of developing other students’ own attitudes towards people different from themselves and can have immeasurable benefit when they step out in to the world.
We would like to ask you to consider your current policies.. Does your current uniform allow an option for students who do not identify with stereotypically gendered clothes? (An option for shorts instead of a skirt, for example) Are your staff aware of the issues facing GLBTIA students and how to effectively support them? Do your staff and students have access to non-gendered bathrooms if they choose? How does your school population encourage acceptance, tolerance and understanding? Is education about GLBTIA issues (STD prevention, acknowledgements of asexuality etc) included in your educational curriculum? Is your school a safe place – physically and emotionally – for GLBTIA students?
If you were reading and answered Yes, yes, yes! then we think you’re just great. Good work team. If you were thinking “Umm.. Not so much.” .. Then can we help? Can we provide you with information or connect you with local resources to contribute to educating your staff and developing new policy? Please let us know.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read.
Kai and Yolanda Bogert. – http://www.sproggets.com