In this lesson, students read a general overview text about transgender identities and rights in the United States, analyze social media posts in support of transgender rights, and reflect on the power of personal storytelling.
This resource guide has been updated and revised (September 2022). The previous version can be found here.
The following collection represents an array of resources from various groups and organizations that may prove useful to educators looking to learn more about transgender identity, discuss transgender identity in the classroom, serve and support transgender students, and more. Members and allies of the transgender community have come together to protest what they see as systemic attempts by federal, state, and local governments to take away the rights of transgender people. Violence and discrimination against transgender people is not a new phenomenon, but has a long history. In order to nurture the well-being of transgender students and support the movement for transgender rights, it is important to learn about transgender identity and issues.
Key Topics and Terminology
Each student and teacher enters the conversation about gender identity and transgender issues at a different place and from a different background. The following resources may help provide some basic information that can serve as the foundation for respectful, constructive, and informed conversations in the classroom and beyond.
This guide from the National Center for Transgender Equality is a useful place for students (and teachers) to explore informational resources about the basics of transgender identity and issues. This page provides links to resources that introduce what it means to be transgender and explain key topics, discuss how to ask appropriate questions about being transgender, and give tips on how to be a good ally to transgender people. A “Frequently Asked Questions” page defines basic terms, discusses how people realize they are transgender, and explains what it means for someone to transition.
For those looking for secondary-level lesson plans related to transgender identity, the following may be of use. All classrooms are different, and it is important to assess the dynamics of your classroom and community and adapt all activities accordingly in order to provide a safe learning experience for all students.
In this lesson from Choices, students learn key terms for discussing transgender identity and issues, read a short overview text about transgender identity and issues in the United States today, and analyze social media posts from the #WontBeErased campaign.
The rights of transgender students and people to participate in team and individual athletics according to their gender identity has become a point of public debate in recent years. This lesson plan from Learning for Justice provides a basic guide to transgender identities. It also introduces students to a number of transgender athletes who share their experiences seeking to compete in sports according to their gender identity.
This lesson plan from the New York Times asks students to engage in discussion about proposed legislation in the United States that seeks to prevent transgender students from participating in sports in ways that align with their gender identity. Students read a proposed bill, reflect on the language of the bill in discussion and in a writing activity, and then read and thoughtfully consider a letter to the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) signed by over 500 transgender athletes.
Resources for Teachers and Schools
Many educators have questions about the best ways to serve the transgender students in their schools. While every student, classroom, school, and community is different, the following resources provide some guidance for educators who want to learn how to better support transgender students.
In this downloadable, detailed guide, Learning for Justice outlines the ways in which educators can serve transgender students and work to create an inclusive and safe school climate. Among other things, this guide advises educators on ways to learn about the policies in place in their schools that affect LGBTQ students, how to make adjustments in the classroom that will allow for conversations about identity that are respectful, how to assess and adapt curricula to be inclusive, and how to engage with families and communities.
In this short article, GLAAD provides six suggestions for educators to make classrooms inclusive for transgender students. The article encourages educators to conduct research, adjust the language used in the classroom, ask students for their pronouns, respond to bullying, offer resources, and defend transgender students.
In order to provide information for educators about what has changed since U.S. government agencies rescinded Title IX guidance for transgender students, PFLAG (an LGBTQ advocacy organization founded in 1973) released this FAQ guide. This guide also addresses questions that parents of transgender students may have.
This toolkit from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California has three resources aimed at school counselors and administrators.
- “How to Communicate with Parents and Staff”: Questions that educators may receive from parents or school staff about the topic of gender identity, as well as strategies about how to shape these conversations.
- “How to Create Inclusive Classrooms”: Action steps to support educators in creating a welcoming inclusive environment.
- “33 Terms Educators Should Know”: Glossary of commonly used terms to describe aspects of gender identity and expression.
Resources for Transgender or Questioning Students
The following resources may be useful for those students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, or who are questioning their gender identity. In order to avoid making assumptions about students’ gender identities, it may be beneficial to make these resources available for all students. They could also be useful resources for students who specifically ask for information on gender identity.
The “Coming Out as You” guide from the Trevor Project (an organization that provides crisis and suicide intervention services for LGBTQ young people) is a downloadable resource that aims to help students as they navigate the sometimes challenging process of coming out (or choosing not to come out). This guide—written specifically for young people—addresses gender and sexuality spectrums, encourages students to identify supportive people in their lives, provides tips for coming out to family members and other people who may (at least initially) disapprove, and introduces students to self-care and helps them make a self-care plan.
The Trevor Project provides crisis and suicide intervention services for LGBTQ young people. The Trevor Project has a crisis line for young people considering suicide or engaging in self-harming behaviors. Crisis intervention and suicide prevention advocates are available 24/7, 365 days a year. At certain times of the day, advocates are available via text or online chat. TrevorSpace, an online peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their allies, may also prove useful to some students.
From the ACLU and GLSEN (organization founded by teachers to support LGBTQ youth in school), “Know Your Rights” is a downloadable guide that informs transgender and gender non-conforming students of their rights. It outlines the basic rights that these students have at school, introduces students to key laws that help protect them and their rights, and gives advice on how to report gender-based discrimination at school. This resource is also a helpful tool enabling all students to act as empowered allies and to speak up for the rights and safety of their peers.
Resources for Parents and Allies
Many students, teachers, parents of transgender or questioning students, and other members of the community may be interested in learning about how to become a respectful and effective ally for members of the transgender community. The following resources may be useful as people learn more about allyship.
This guide from the National Center for Transgender Equality outlines the basic steps for becoming a good ally to the transgender community. It highlights best practices for interacting with transgender people, how to effectively speak out for transgender rights, and how to make change in schools and communities.
This guide from PFLAG outlines ways that students can be allies for transgender people. It is free to download (or can be purchased in print). This guide starts from the basics and is accessible to students with all levels of familiarity with transgender identity and issues. Among many other useful resources, the guide defines important terms and provides many examples, explains what it means to be an ally, and gives tips for working through common barriers for allies—such as the fear of saying the wrong thing and how to recover from mistakes or offensive questions or comments. It also asks students to plan their next steps as they continue their work as allies.
This short guide from Gender Spectrum (a national organization supporting the health of gender-diverse youth) identifies and responds to a series of commonly asked questions by parents and guardians who are unsure about whether children should be taught about gender identity at school. It also provides advice on how parents and guardians can answer questions their children may have about gender. While many of the responses are geared toward parents of younger students, many of these questions are still relevant for high school parents.
This resource provides best practices for people in the medical community who may serve transgender and gender-non-conforming young people. It also provides guidance about seeking medical care to support gender diverse youth, including both medical and non-medical interventions and therapy.
This site from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) provides a regularly updated guide to state-specific policies regarding healthcare and medical support for transgender people, and may be useful for educators and parents aiming to better understand what resources are available to support the physical and mental well-being of transgender students in every state.
Transgender Rights History Resources
Studying both the recent history of transgender rights in the United States and longer histories of the experiences of transgender people in the United States is one way to contextualize the current state of transgender rights.
This short timeline from GLAAD highlights just some of the many events throughout history related to transgender people and their rights. It includes positive moments—such as the creation of foundations to assist transgender people and protests by transgender people—as well as incidents of violence inflicted upon transgender people. Learning about these moments of both triumph and violence can help students better contextualize the oppression that the transgender community faces today as well as the gains that they have made in securing their rights.
The final section of this article from Learning for Justice provides a timeline covering major events related to bathroom access for transgender students. It covers events from March 2016 to July 2018.
This essay from the American Psychological Association (APA) provides a brief overview of the lived experiences of people who may have identified as LGBT, and the social and political movements that aimed to support their rights, from prehistory to today. The essay offers a global perspective on the history of transgender people in centuries past, and it examines efforts to either erase their identities or to ensure their acceptance and well-being. The essay also cites further reading for those interested in learning more about the long history of LGBT people and social movements.
The Movement Advancement Project is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 that aims to communicate data to the public for the purpose of supporting policy changes that advance equality and opportunity for all Americans. Equality Maps track over fifty different LGBTQ-related laws and policies in all states and U.S. territories. These maps offer a thorough overview of current state-level policies regarding topics such as healthcare for transgender youth and adults, adoption and foster care, nondiscrimination in housing and employment, and much more.
Thank you to Sarah Christensen for her work in developing this Resource Guide.