I have to admit that the connection to special education is pretty tenuous, but I was transfixed by a story on NPR Wednesday about two families coping with transgendered young sons. One family decided to let their child live as a girl while another family is trying to make their son feel more comfortable in his biological gender, including taking away his “girlish” toys. Now, the child’s mother says, her son has some friends who are boys and is no longer saying that he’s a girl...but she senses that he’s leading a double life. At school he plays with girls; at home, he knows that behavior is not acceptable. It’s a compelling tale.
(The second part of the series, about a family that is considering hormone therapy to delay puberty for their transgendered son, is available here.)
Though the school/education angle was only a small part of the NPR stories, a quick Google search shows that this is hardly the first time that schools have had to make accommodations for transgendered youth. This article, which ran Saturday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, talks about the controversy that erupted when a 9-year-old third grader planned to transition into life as a girl. The school held an assembly for students to explain the situation. That didn’t go over well with some parents.
I did not think that the letter needed to go out," said Valerie Huff, whose daughter is a friend of the transgender student. "The kids don't make any big deal about it at all." Mary Beth Lauer, district director of community relations, said there were no easy answers for school officials. "This is something that was going to come out," Lauer said. "Isn't it better to be proactive, and let people know what is happening and how we're dealing with it?"
Does anyone have personal stories about schools and transgendered youth?
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.