Usually it is a horror story. A child reveals to parents and a teacher that she is a actually girl regardless of the male sex assigned at birth. This little girl is not at all confused about her gender. Typically this is when all hell breaks loose.
But not always.
When filling out the get-to-know you forms for the first year in kindergarten, the grandchild of a friend of mine said, “Mom, we need to tell them. That I’m really a girl.” She choose the name Avery to replace the male name that had been given to her at birth. Fortunately her parents love Avery more than her gender. And Avery’s new school became a place of joyful acceptance. Avery’s mom writes:
The Center School in Greenfield, Massachusetts has rallied for our family and our daughter Avery from the moment we met. As soon as we enrolled they took action: creating a supportive environment that actively addressed her needs and refused to compromise her integrity. Avery’s story inspired the school to change from gendered bathrooms to all-gender bathrooms and focus on gender-inclusivity in their socially responsible curriculum for students from preschool through 8th grade. The administrators started a “Raising My Rainbow” book club to help educate parents and staff members about gender variance, brought the author of that book, Lori Duron, to the area to present her work, attracting over 200 people from the general public, and hired a highly reputable therapist who specializes in gender education to train the entire staff. All of these efforts began within a month of Avery’s enrollment without ANY pressure or even suggestion from Avery’s parents.
This is a great school. One where Avery thrives. Check out this video to learn more about Avery’s story and the thoughtful, creative, and really useful ways the adults in her life responded.
But there is one problem. A small private school like Avery’s costs money to attend. Avery’s mom writes:
Due to changes in our family structure, we can no longer afford to send our daughter to her beloved school. Avery has blossomed at the Center School and needs your support to be able to continue her education at this progressive, social-justice school. Although The Center School has established a new scholarship for Avery and families like hers (what we call trans*families), in its fledgling state, it can not yet offset Avery’s tuition. Please help us send Avery and two other children from trans*families to The Center School for the 2015-16 school year AND help us begin our new venture: to find more safe schools like The Center School (and train schools who hope to become “safe”) for gender non-conforming children and their families.
Lots of people talk about being allies to trans* folks and the LGBTQ community. It is wonderful when those in solidarity share articles on Facebook and Twitter, when people favorite and like posts that support trans* people. But the role of the ally is one that also requires cost. The privileged often have a little (or a lot) more that they can share with the community.
If you got this far in this blog post and are moved by Avery’s story and want to help her and other children like her have a place in the Center School, please donate something, even just $5.00. Pass on your latte or dinner and a movie, and show your support as an ally. Join in making the world a better place for Avery and kids like her.