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School nurses' role in supporting transgender young people

02 March 2020
Volume 1 · Issue 1


Transgender young people are frequently ostracised by their families and communities. As a result, their emotional wellbeing can be seriously affected. School nurses have an important role to play in supporting transgender young people and embracing diversity in ways which encourage tolerance and inclusion in school communities.

The issues facing transgender young people are indicative of the society in which we live. While numbers of children and teenagers unhappy with their gender identity are increasing the stigma and prejudice around them remain (Rivers et al, 2018). Pathologising transgender young people also leads to poor outcomes (Roen, 2019). School nurses have an important role to play in supporting transgender young people and embracing diversity in ways that encourage tolerance and inclusion in school communities.

Statistics about the mental health of young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or who have other sexual identities (LGBT+) demonstrate profound need (Salkind et al, 2019). There are higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, self-harm, and suicide in the LGBT+ population.

In 2017, a UK-based survey of 3713 LGBT+ young people found that 61% reported self-harm and 22% a previous suicide attempt in the LGB cohort. Of the transgender cohort, 84% reported self-harm and 45% a previous suicide attempt (Stonewall, 2017). The disproportionately high rates have been linked to factors including homophobia, biphobia or transphobia and being unable to disclose being LGBT+.

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