Removal of Inclusive Education program will increase burden on parents

Brooke Bennett is the parent of an eleven-year-old transgender child. Brooke runs a support group for parents. In this opinion piece she shares her thoughts on the McGowan Government’s decision to discontinue funding for the Inclusive Education WA program

I’m most disappointed to see Inclusive Education lose its funding. It was a valuable resource for the school community as a place to get factual advice relating to how best to affirm their student’s needs.

A resource like Inclusive Education is vital from a parent’s point of view. The absence of any official Education Department policy on supporting gender diverse students means that individual school responses, and treatment of the diverse community within schools, is largely inconsistent. Some schools are doing it brilliantly and others have much room for improvement.

For parents, where there were issues relating to their child’s treatment & inclusion at school, Inclusive Education was a vital resource we could contact to help encourage engagement and understanding within our children’s schools. This resulted in a better outcome for all LGBTIQ+ students visible or not.

To replace it with online modules and school psychologist advice, is not in my opinion adequate. Many parents have had differing experiences with psychologists throughout their child’s journey and I can attest to the fact that not all get it right (they are human just like the rest of us).

Inclusive Education was also an important resource for school psychologists who receive very little formal training in gender and diversity. It was a service where they could get accurate information and real life suggestions for their school’s specific situation directly from members of the diverse community, to then disperse throughout their schools.

I would imagine that a great number of attendees at Inclusive Education seminars would be school psychologists as I know a number who have attended them.

I have a transgender child about to begin high school next year and I am most concerned that there is no longer a reliable source of information and problem solving available to schools in supporting their diverse students.

I’m concerned that this work will now fall to individual parents to negotiate with their school – leading to more inconsistency, stress for families, and a lack of whole school approaches to affirming diversity.

Here is a link to a recent peer reviewed UK study which helps explain the challenges faced by educators & students in a school setting.

Brooke’s comments are of a personal nature and do not necessarily represent the position of TransFolk of WA. Parents of transgender or gender diverse children can get in touch with Brooke via email.


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