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Supporting trans and gender diverse students in WA schools

Last week, the Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit was honoured to present at the Supporting Trans and Gender Diverse Students in WA Schools panel event organised by Safe Schools Coalition WA.

Commissioner Pettit said the presentations and panel discussion provided a great opportunity to hear from students, staff and families about what schools can do to better include and celebrate trans and gender diverse children and young people in school communities. He was particularly impressed by the young people who shared their personal experiences and ideas of what needs to change to improve the educational experience for trans and gender diverse students.

“All students should have access to quality and supportive educational environments, regardless of their sexuality or gender status,” the Commissioner said.

“I am very concerned about the reported rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and attempted suicide among trans and gender diverse children and young people, and last week’s event was a positive step towards better understanding their needs and those around them.

“I believe that all schools need to have a whole-of-school approach to how they will address discrimination, violence and abuse towards LGBTI children and young people, and clear strategies to create inclusive and supportive environments and settings for these children and young people to learn and participate.

“I am pleased that funding to the Safe Schools program has continued in Western Australia under the State Government and I am keen to see how schools implement this to ensure that all LGBTI children and young people can feel safe and supported in their school and learning.”

The Commissioner for Children and Young People has started work to hear the voices of LGBTI children and young people in Western Australia, and is committed to working alongside the government and the non-government sectors to improve outcomes for LGBTI children and young people.

The event included a presentation from Penelope Strauss from the Telethon Kids Institute on the Trans Pathways report which identified that trans and gender diverse children and young people – that is, those who identify as a gender different to the gender they were assigned at birth – are at significantly higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes than their peers.