Rethinking conventions: Keeping gender-diverse students safe

A primary principal learns how to create a safe culture for gender-diverse students. 

This short article relates the experience of an American school principal. It begins with a parent’s question: “Would you allow our son to wear a dress to school?” 

The principal talks about what he learned from research and how he personally realised that “any potential discomfort we or others may have ... does not outweigh a student's right to be safe and feel included.”

From their research the school implemented a framework centred on four best practices:

  • build gender literacy
  • respect gender Identity and expression
  • balance personal views with professional roles
  • establish a sense of safety.

The article includes three reflective questions.

Further reading

Guide to LGBTIQA+ students – Inclusive Education website

Information, strategies and resources for schools to support the inclusion and wellbeing of students who identify as sex, gender, or sexuality diverse (SGSD).

Community report – Counting ourselves website 

Chapter 8 summarises the survey responses of gender-diverse young people attending secondary school. (2019 report)


Ciuffo, A. (2019). Rethinking Conventions: Keeping Gender-Diverse Students Safe. Educational Leadership, vol 77(2), pp70-75. ASCD.

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