Education bosses are rolling out a new training programme for school staff after reports of Aberdeen teachers “dead naming” transgender pupils.
The instances of trans children being referred to by their birthname are said to be especially psychologically damaging as they seek to affirm their new identity.
It emerged as Aberdeen City Council revealed more city pupils are being bullied in school because of their gender or sexual orientation.
Reports of such incidents have gone up from 16 in 2019 to 72 in 2022.
Pupils have told Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC) that transphobia and homophobia are not taken seriously enough – unlike other issues like racism.
And the charity said matters are made worse as there’s no official way to record this, with no option to log transphobic bullying on the council’s system.
‘Lack of appreciation’ for harm caused by ‘dead naming’
Meanwhile, the same charity says some teachers are adding to the problems trans pupils are facing at school by using their old names.
There have been reports where teachers have caused distress to transgender pupils by referring to them by their birth name – otherwise known as “dead naming”.
In their report, council chiefs said there is a “sense of a lack of appreciation” for the impact this can have on any trans person, but “especially on young individuals”.
What training will teachers receive on trans pupils?
Because these issues have not been recorded properly, charity watchdogs say teachers and pupils are not being offered the right support in how to treat trans children.
The GREC hopes a new approach will raise awareness of “all forms of bullying”.
Leaders say that, by detailing the “transphobic elements” of bullying, appropriate “preventions” can be lined up.
The report comes at a time when schools are adapting to accommodate transgender youngsters.
What else is being done to tackle bullying in Aberdeen schools?
Although the number of bullying incidents related to racism have decreased – with the number of African pupils nearly doubling since 2019 – others have gone up.
The council now wants to tackle those issues by training more teachers on how to handle reports of bullying.
GREC believes that the “refreshed” policy will mean employees can better identify and rectify issues.
So what are teachers expected to do?
Officials at GREC criticised the council, saying “the experience for pupils is not always positive” when reporting incidents of bullying.
Council education chiefs have now drafted new measures to fill in the gaps and improve their approach.
One of the more prominent points is reinforcing a better system to monitor and report every bullying incident.
What about bullying via gaming or social media?
While the new policy was welcomed, parents have raised concerns the new regulations are still not strong enough.
Councillor Ken McLeod questioned the lack of clarity on when exactly school staff are expected to take action – with bullying taking place outside school grounds.
Aberdeen City Council’s quality improvement officer Mark Hearns acknowledged the “blurred lines” between what is and isn’t the school’s responsibility.
However, he reassured them that action will still be taken even if the bullying occurs via gaming, social media and text messages.
He said: “When bullying is happening outside of school, the school has responsibility and is keen to be involved in resolving those issues.
“Ultimately, sometimes it will come back into the school so the school definitely has a role to play.”