Eight in ten teachers want more help to support transgender students

160222 School uniform
Credit: PA

Eight in ten teachers would like more help and guidance in supporting their transgender pupils, figures shared exclusively with ITV News have revealed.

The charity Just Like Us, which conducted the survey, said teachers in England are "crying out for the right resources" to give young LGBT+ people the best start in life.

It's an experience that 26-year-old Orange Ibreck is all too familiar with. The artist, who identifies as non-binary, has concerns about the support on offer for teachers with young LGBT+ people in school. 

They said: "I never felt seen or understood. I was never informed that I had an option to not be a girl.

"I wanted to please everyone around me. So I didn’t feel able to question gender. I didn't feel like I would be empowered or accepted or believed, so any time a question around gender came up, I would naturally push it back down.”

"It would have made such a crucial fundamental difference (if my teachers had been trained)."

  • Orange Ibreck says they didn't feel like they would be accepted

Research shows that LGBT+ young people are twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety and panic attacks but eight in ten teachers don't feel like they know how to support their trans students. 

The Just Like Us survey, shared exclusively with ITV, found nine in 10 (87%) secondary school teachers and one in four (23%) primary school teachers have at least one pupil who has come out as transgender.

Eight in 10 (78%) teachers say they would like more help and guidance in supporting their transgender pupils.

This was even higher for secondary school teachers in Yorkshire & the North East (80%).

Dominic Arnall, from Just Like Us, says teachers are "crying out for the right resources"

Chief Executive of Just Like Us, Dominic Arnall, said "Trans young people across the country are in schools with teachers who are crying out for the right resources to support them. 

“While we understand some might feel nervous about this there is really no reason to be. You don’t need to be an expert in gender to support trans young people.

"Just Like Us is here to help schools become more LGBT+ inclusive and may be able to help, and there are a range of trans-led organisations that are also on hand to provide advice and guidance."

The charity is encouraging schools across the UK to access free educational resources and training to set up Pride Groups for LGBT+ and ally pupils.

Kai O’Doherty, the Head of Policy and Research at Mermaids, added: "Fostering learning environments that benefit every child’s positive mental health and wellbeing should be our priority.

"Teachers need to be given the knowledge and tools to support trans, non-binary and gender-diverse students. All young people should be able to learn as themselves, without fear of prejudice and discrimination."

In a statement, the Department of Education said: “We recognise that transgender issues can be complex and sensitive for schools to navigate.

“We will be working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission as we consider the next steps in helping schools to appropriately support transgender pupils.”

If any of the issues in this article have affected you or someone you know, there is always help available.

  • Switchboard the LGBT+ helpline can provide an information, support and referral services. Their phone line is open every day from 10am-10pm on 0300 330 0630.

  • Samaritans is on hand for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. They have a free 24 hour helpline on 116 123 and lots of other ways to get in touch.