Local schools have been given powers to meet the needs of transgender teenagers including flexibility with regards to the choice of school uniform, but should be doing more, according to a local MLA.
South Tyrone MLA Phil Flanagan has called upon schools to tackle issues like uniforms, changing rooms and toilet facilities for pupils who are transgender.
He said that schools need to be much more understanding of the issues . He was speaking after raising the issue with the Education Minister John O’Dowd.
The Sinn Féin MLA said: “There is no real understanding of the challenges and prejudices facing members of our transgender community until one tries to put oneself into the shoes of someone in that situation. This is particularly difficult for young transgender people, who are particularly vulnerable and require additional support and understanding.
“I would encourage local schools to seek out advice from transgender support groups to increase their own understanding of the issues facing transgender pupils.
“I also understand from the Minister that the Department will be carrying out research into the experiences of LGBT pupils within our post primary schools and that the findings of this will help to inform further policy direction in this important area.
“As a matter of priority, we need to see a complete change in attitude towards transgender members of our community.”