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An elementary school in New Hampshire says it's welcoming a transgendered third-grader as a girl. The child will be able to use the girls' restroom, will dress like a girl, and will be addressed as a girl at school. Janson Wu, the lawyer who helped her parents reach an agreement with her new school, says accommodating transgendered students is new territory for everyone, but "we're going to see a lot more students coming out. And that's something that schools and parents need to be prepared to deal with."
It sounds like maybe the girl's previous school was not so prepared. She transferred this fall from a different city school. I wonder how many of her teachers and classmates already know if this new student is transgendered -- and if so, how much it matters to them. Will they eventually find out? How exactly is this going to work out in the bathroom?
I'll admit my first thought: A third-grader? How would this child know at such a young age? But I happen to live with a third-grader. I know how willful he is, and how clear he is about his identity. So yeah, I believe this transgendered girl feels strongly about being a girl. Gender identity becomes super important starting around the age of 7. This is definitely the result of her reaching a developmental milestone.
I think her fellow classmates can handle it. But I hope they get support from their parents, too. No parent should be filling their kids' heads with bigoted ideas. This is an opportunity for families to grow compassion. Who knows why there are kids born one gender but feel like they're the other gender? Does it really matter? You should still treat them with dignity and respect. This is an important lesson for all kids (and their parents!) to learn.
So I'm glad the school is accepting this transgendered student. The district superintendent, Mark Conrad, says the agreement between the girl's parents and the school is meant to help the girl thrive in the classroom -- and that's exactly what the school should be focusing on. Girl or boy, it doesn't matter. Let her pee in the girls' bathroom! However this student wants to be identified, it's the school's job to provide her with the best education they possibly can in an environment that doesn't cause her extra stress. I hope it works out.
What do you think of the school's decision to accept a transgendered third-grader?
Image via Robynlou8/Flickr