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Boarding school faces backlash for allowing transgender boys to sleep in boys dorms

Katharine Swindells October 15, 2017

A UK boarding school has come under scrutiny for its steps taken towards transgender inclusivity.

Gordon’s School, a mixed-gender boarding school in Surrey, has drawn up guidelines saying pupils can request to be addressed by a different name or pronouns, wear a different uniform, and change their hair, makeup and jewellery.

They can also use gender-neutral lavatories, and change their boarding accommodation.

Last year, the Boarding School Association released guidelines about how to navigate the “minefield” of transgender students, including advice about language and pronouns.

Other organisations have suggested that gender-neutral uniforms, or letting students choose which to wear, is a good step in supporting LGBT students.

Transgender getty
(Getty)

Gordon’s School said they had been prompted to make changes by the news of students coming out as transgender after leaving, and wanted to take steps make sure they felt safe to do so while under their care.

The deputy head, Rob Pavis, said they had so far had a number of students exploring their gender identity, including one ask to wear a dress and some makeup to prom, and another request to be referred to by a different name.

“Parents of pupils were surprised by how open-minded we have been. Most schools are having these issues,” Pavis told the Sunday Times.

Related: The University of Kansas has opened a dorm devoted to LGBT students

The debate began earlier this month, when it became known that another Surrey boarding school, Frensham Heights, allowed a transgender boy to sleep in a private room in the boys boarding house.

Other students at the school had also asked to change their names and pronouns.

The Frensham Heights headmaster, Andrew Fisher, defended the steps his school had taken to support transgender students and those questioning their gender identity.

“The other boys are aware this student is going through questioning their identity and they are not frightened or intimidated by that,” he said of the boarding house change.

“We are a progressive school,” he said, describing how they have taken steps to remove gendered language such as “boys and girls” in the classroom.

Reports of the steps taken by these schools have been critical or dismissive, often misgendering pupils, and with responses calling out so-called “boys who claim to be girls.”

“So boys can opt to sleep with girls if they want. Or vice versa. No privacy. Mad mad mad pc bs,” one comment read.

More: bathrooms, boarding school, Education, pronouns, school, school uniform, Transgender

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