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SD104 trains staff to support transgender students

As laws all over the country are evolving concerning transgender issues, area schools are starting to explore how to address the needs of their transgender students and properly educate staff and other students on the issue.

The Berwyn school district has already trained its staff to be supportive of its transgender students.

Summit School District 104 board member Adriana Rodriguez attended a conference that discussed how the Berwyn district was able to successfully train all of its staff to be able to make transgender students feel comfortable and welcome at school.

Rodriguez and other school board members believe it is important for District 104 to look into how it can begin to teach staff to accommodate transgender students and answer any questions any student might have about the topic itself.

ÒEveryone on staff should be trained on transgender issues,” Rodriguez said. ÒThey should know how to explain to students and how to handle questions. We don’t want to wait until there is a problem.”

Supt. Dr. Troy Whalen said that Special Education Director Kathy Johnson has taken the training for the staff in this area.

Johnson sent this statement via email, ÒCook County School District 104 is committed to ‘Acceptance for All’. To support educators, so they can in turn support students, a presentation on ‘Acceptance for All’ was held on opening Institute Day. Following the initial presentation, a committee was formed to assist in meeting the mission of educating the school community about ‘Acceptance for All’. This empowers every student to recognize he/she is good enough as members of a safe and supportive school community. ‘Acceptance for All’ holds firm in three expectations for all educators including: empowering every student to recognize he/she is good enough, ensuring every student has a safe place to learn, and ensuring every student has needed support. A follow-up presentation on equity and acceptance will follow in April.”

Whalen said that Heritage Middle School already has transgender students who have came out and are getting the support they need at school.

The board agreed that it is important that every student feel safe and welcome at school, that the school should always be a safe haven, even when sometimes the students do not have support from their own parents.

The district plans to further train and look into how to accommodate their students in all aspects relating to the issue of transgender students.

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