Students and Gender Identity Policy
Wesley College is committed to providing all students with access to quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, religion, health, disability or socioeconomic background. As a school community we value, celebrate and respond to diversity. It is underpinned by respectful and collaborative relationships with parents and communities through transparent policy communication, learning partnerships, participation and consultative decision-making.
This policy is designed:
- To assist in the creation of a safe and inclusive environment that supports students’ gender identity or intersex status.
- To respond constructively to the needs of educationally disadvantaged/marginalised students.
- To ensure that all College community members feel safe and free from discrimination, bias, and harassment.
- To promote locally negotiated responses to student, family and community needs through effective community engagement processes and cross-agency collaboration.
- To ensure all students are provided with equal opportunities to reach their potential, irrespective of sex, gender, gender variance or expectations about gender.
‘Gender identity’ is broadly defined as meaning ‘the gender-related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth.’
By this definition, the Sex Discrimination Act therefore affords protection from discrimination for persons who identify as men, women or also as neither male nor female. It does not matter what sex the person was assigned at birth, or whether the person has undergone any medical intervention. Some terms used to describe a person’s gender identity include trans, transgender and gender diverse. By this definition, the Sex Discrimination Act therefore affords protection from discrimination for persons who identify as men, women or also as neither male nor female. The Sex Discrimination Act does not use these labels; however, it is intended to cover these identities and more.
Intersex Status is defined by the Sex Discrimination Act as meaning:
‘The status of having physical, hormonal, or genetic features that are:
- neither wholly female nor wholly male; or
- a combination of female and male; or
- neither female nor male.’
This attribute is directed at protecting the ‘biological’ aspects or characteristics of intersex persons, but not the person’s gender identity. These provisions will afford an intersex person protection from discrimination based on whether that person may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of the biological attributes considered necessary to be defined as one or the other sex.
Wesley College recognises that a person’s sex and gender may not necessarily be the same. Some people may identify as a different gender to the one assigned at birth, and some people may identify as neither exclusively male nor exclusively female.
‘Gender affirmation’ refers to the time when a person commences living and behaving as a member of another gender other than their gender or sex assigned at birth. This may also be known as ‘gender transition’ or ‘transitioning’ but gender affirmation is the recommended language.
Wesley College supports and respects a student's right to express their gender identity whether or not this aligns with their designated sex at birth.
The Principal or the Principal’s delegate (Head of Campus) will endeavour to protect a student’s privacy and confidentiality in relation to gender identity or intersex status but there may be circumstances where this is not possible.
This policy has been developed in line with both the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) and Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), as well as the Victorian Department of Education’s LGBTIQ Student Support Policy.
- Children are entitled to respect and to flourish regardless of gender. It is unlawful to discriminate against a person based on sex, gender, or gender-identity.
- The College will support and respect a student’s choice to identify as their affirmed gender when this does not align with their designated sex at birth.
- Once consent is provided by the young person, a family representative/carer will be invited to be part of the formulation of a Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan.
- Where practical, a letter from a health professional with expertise in gender diversity will be requested by College staff to support the development of the plan. This letter is not a conditional requirement for the College to provide support to the student, but it may help to ensure that our duty of care is adequately discharged.
- The College works to ensure all students are treated with respect and equal opportunities to succeed.
- Learning and teaching programs are inclusive and enhance the capacity of gender diverse students to participate in all aspects of schooling.
- Professional development provided for staff on topics including gender equity and gender identity.
- Students are encouraged to express and celebrate their individuality, whether or not it conforms to gender stereotypes.
- Inclusive language is used within the school.
- Students in discussion with their parents/carers will be supported in their choice of personal pronoun in school records and everyday usage.
- Respond to students or parents/carers who identify a need, such as counselling or psychological support.
- The College supports the right of each child to dress in accordance with their gender identity. The student dress code is gender neutral and provides all students with safe and comfortable uniforms with all gender options.
- The College acts on any identified incidents of discrimination, harassment, or bullying, including gender-based bullying.
Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan
A Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan will be prepared and implemented to support students who are affirming their gender at school. In formulating the Support Plan, Wesley College will work with the student and their parents/carers to identify the ways in which the school may be able to provide support. The purpose of the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan is to ensure that ‘the school responds to the student’s needs and addresses any facilities and privacy issues’.
It is important that the student is at the centre of creating their own support plan and understands they are a partner in a plan actively following the agreed decisions.
The Wesley College staff who may work with the student and their parents/carers to prepare the Student Support Plan, may include their respective Assistant/Head of School, Head of Year, Head of House and/or the School Counsellors or Psychologists.
The Head of Campus (or nominated senior campus delegate) will initially;
- identify current supports that are in place and determine if additional school-based supports are required;
- respond to students or parents/carers who identify a need, such as counselling support.
Thereafter, the Head of Campus (or nominated senior campus delegate), together with the student and the parents/carers, will create a Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan that ensures the school responds to the student’s needs and addresses any facilities and privacy issues. The plan will;
- reflect this policy;
- cater to the student’s affirmed gender identity;
- take a commonsense approach;
- take into account support that the student may be getting outside of school;
- be devised over staggered sessions to allow time for trialing and opportunity for adjustments to occur. The Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it reflects the needs of the student at the different stages of their transition and at different stages of their education. Review dates will be agreed at the time of developing the initial Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan and will occur at least once a term in the first 12 months and then each semester thereafter.
- include information and contact details from any external professional involved in the care for that student. As information from the external professional becomes available to the student and the parent/carer that necessitates an adjustment to the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan, it is the responsibility of the student and the parent/carer to share details with the Head of School to ensure the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan remains accurate.
- maintain appropriate privacy and confidentiality — consider the privacy of the student, and only share information with direct consent from the young person to do so.
- In consultation and with consent from the student and family, determine whether key staff members, for example, Subject Teachers, Homeroom Teachers, Tutors, Physical Education staff, Outdoor Education staff, Sport Staff and Coaches, International Students Coordinator (if applicable), Heads of Year, Heads of House, Assistant Heads of School, Heads of School, Heads of Student Wellbeing, School Psychologists and School Counsellors and Heads of Campus need to be advised to support the student.
- consider the best timing to undertake any change of gender identity, such as term break;
- reference and record a student’s affirmed name, gender identity, and pronouns (he, she, they etc.)
- develop a communications plan that includes what information staff members and other students need to know to best support the student.
- consider any issues that could arise relating to upcoming school camps or residential experiences and determine and agree upon appropriate arrangements (accommodation, toilet and changeroom facilities etc.)
- seek agreement as to which staff members will know of the gender identity change.
- identify any additional processes required to:
- review the plan,
- inform others should it be decided necessary,
- address potential school community concerns, and
- manage unforeseen circumstances.
The arrangements for the use of these facilities will be discussed and agreed.
The arrangements for the use of toilet facilities, including showers and change rooms, should be documented in the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan. Careful consideration will be given to the use of facilities that are appropriate to the student's affirmed gender.
Where the student is a boarder involved in Learning in Residence, the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan will need to document any arrangements relevant to boarding operations and/or Learning in Residence.
Access to ‘All Gender’ facilities is offered which, in turn, assures privacy for the school cohort and individual student.
In situations where a student changes gender identity, community members who knew the student prior to the change may need:
- further information on gender identity through professional learning, or
- to discuss issues in general with a senior staff member.
- occur as a matter of practice over time and
- may include use of:
- a student’s new name and pronoun use,
- address appropriate to the preferred gender identity, and/or
- relevant academic assessment and reporting gender references.
This policy currently does not explicitly address situations in which a student and their parents are not in agreement regarding the student’s gender identity. There may arise circumstances in which students wish to change their gender identity without the consent of their parents.
It is the College’s preference to bring the student and the parent/carer together in the first instance to support the student in discussion where parental consent may not be forthcoming. If no agreement can be reached between the student and the parent/carer regarding the student’s gender identity, or if the parent/carer will not consent to the contents of a Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan, it will be necessary for the College to consider whether the student is a ‘mature minor,’ enabling the student to permissibly make decisions for themselves without parental consent.
The law recognises that as children become older and more mature, they are more capable of making their own decisions about a wide range of issues including decisions about their education, healthcare and wellbeing. The law recognises that a young person may reach this stage before they are 18 years old, but there is no specific age when a young person may be sufficiently mature and capable of making their own decision. These young people are referred to as ‘mature minors’.
When responding to a request from a student to make a decision on their own behalf, the College will need to be satisfied that the student has sufficient maturity, understanding and intelligence to make up their own mind about a particular issue, such as a decision relating to a change of name. This is a decision for the College and a written record should be kept regarding the decision, including consideration of whether the student understands the consequences that might flow from the decision.
In making this decision, the Head of School, in discussion with the School Psychologists/Counsellors, Head of Campus, Principal and external professionals can take into account:
- knowledge of and conversations with the student,
- the student’s age, level of maturity for their age and their understanding of the issues and outcomes of their proposed decision,
- the student’s living arrangements and independence (for example, if they are not living with their parents),
- the student’s previous academic results/school reports,
- the views of members of the Campus Executive or Leadership Teams, relevant teaching staff, school psychologists and counsellors, or any external health professionals treating or working with the student,
- whether or not another professional working with the student has decided that that student is capable of making other decisions for themselves,
- whether, and if not why, the student will inform their parents/carers before or after making the decision and
- whether it is in the student’s best interest to make the decision with or without parent/carer consent.
The school may require such external evidence or approvals it considers necessary to be satisfied that the student has sufficient maturity and understanding to make the relevant decision. For example, an external professional and/or General Practitioner.
Additional guidance on the assessment of ‘mature minors’ can be found at:
Should the College consider that the student is a ‘mature minor,’ depending on the circumstances it may or may not be appropriate for the student’s family representative/carer to be invited to participate in formulating the Student Gender Affirmation Support Plan.
To align with the Department of Education's directive allowing changes to a student's name in the school database without a birth certificate, our College can initiate the process of updating formal College-based data (such as student files, academic reports, class lists, and enrolment documentation). This process requires consent from the student and/or parents or carers, following these steps:
- A written request from the student and/or parents/carers formally asking for a change in the student's preferred name, gender identity, and gender marker.
- The Head of School acknowledges the request in writing.
- The Head of School contacts the Admissions Team/ITS in writing to implement the requested changes in the student database, keeping this request on file on the student’s profile.
- Admissions/ITS ensures changes are reflected in all student databases. The database will display the student's preferred name, gender identity, and gender marker at the time of initial enrolment. Any requested changes are noted with the date and details, without altering historical records.
- Admissions/ITS informs the Head of School once the changes are implemented.
- The Head of School notifies the student and/or parents/carers in writing that the changes have been made.
- The Head of School informs the student's Homeroom Teacher, Tutor, Subject Teachers, Welfare team, and Head of Year/House about the enacted change.
It is unlawful under state and federal laws to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
- require schools to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, including by taking positive steps to promote an inclusive school environment.
- prohibit direct and indirect discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
Direct discrimination occurs when a person treats a person with a protected attribute (such as a gender identity, intersex status or sexual orientation) unfavourably because of that attribute. Direct discrimination may occur if the school denies or limits any access to any benefit provided by the school or subjects the student to any other detriment. For example, excluding a transgender student from using the toilet that matches their gender because of the sex they were assigned at birth, may limit or deny that student’s access to the benefit.
Indirect discrimination occurs where a requirement, condition or practice is applied to all students equally but its application is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging students with a protected attribute (such as gender identity, intersex status or sexual orientation), and it is not reasonable. For example, it might be indirect discrimination for a school to apply a uniform policy with only ‘male’ and ‘female’ options to all students equally without regard to a student’s gender identity. The result of that policy might be a student with a non-binary identity would be required to wear the uniform of their sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, and the requirement to do so is unreasonable.
- Child Safety Policy
- Child Safe Code of Conduct
- Duty of Care Policy
- Student Duty of Care Policy
- Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
- Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)