Secondary School Teachers' Perceptions of Working with Students Who Identify as Transgender


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Purpose Students who identify as transgender often are met with harassment and bullying in schools due to their gender expression or sexual orientation. Researchers suggest that when educators intervene, school bullying can be reduced. However, to effectively provide academic and social support, teachers’ first must be aware of their own biases and perceptions of marginalized students. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore secondary teachers’ perceptions of working with students who identify as transgender. Understanding teachers’ perceptions and experiences in working with students identifying as transgender revealed strategies for preparing educators to support safe school learning environments for all students. Methodology A purposeful criterion sampling scheme was used to select six secondary teacher participants. A qualitative phenomenological design was utilized to explore teachers’ shared experiences and perceptions of working with students identifying as transgender. Semi-structured interviews were conducted as the primary data source. Interviews were transcribed, and data were analyzed to identify common themes in teacher participants’ perceptions and experiences. Findings In addressing the research questions in this study, four major themes emerged including: (a) school wide support, (b) teacher preparation and training, (c) teacher behavior, and (d) the notion of a new normal. Each emergent theme and subtheme provided insight into the teacher participants’ perceptions of working with students who identify as transgender.
Implications The findings from this research study indicated a need to: increase school-wide supports for students identifying as transgender, provide educator training, cultivate teachers’ acceptance of all students, respond to gender-identity related bullying incidents in schools, and develop awareness of the “new normal” around gender identification in today’s schools.



Phenomenology, Transgender, Gender identity, Gender expression, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Sexual orientation, Gender non-conforming