A transgender pupil at a private boys’ school in Adelaide has shared her story with her peers, with the school offering support to help her complete her education at school.
- Prince Alfred College is one of Adelaide’s most prestigious boys’ schools
- School student now identifies as female
- The school is supporting her to stay and finish grade 12
Prince Alfred College (PAC) Principal Bradley Fenner wrote to parents about the news on Tuesday, following an assembly that day where the student talked about his situation to the rest of the 150 students in his grade.
He said she embodied the school’s motto “Fac Fortia Et Patere” (Do Brave Deeds and Endure) as she addressed the group.
“I thought it was very powerful when she spoke to her peers – the other 12th graders – on Tuesday,” Mr Fenner said.
Prince Alfred College, which is associated with the United Church, was founded in 1869 and is located on Dequetteville Terrace, just outside Adelaide’s CBD in Kent Town.
It is known for its sporting success, with cricketers Greg, Ian and Trevor Chappell attending the school.
Mr Fenner said the student had shared her journey with her close friends over the past 12 months.
“Overall we’ve been very pleased with the response; the boys have been very respectful and supportive,” he said.
“She has received great messages from the student body and staff, as well as the community at large.”
Although he said there had been questions and he expected her to stay at the school, Mr Fenner said the school had “a clear idea of what is just in this situation.”
“We have a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness and those things can’t just be words on the page,” he said.
Essential support for transitioning students
Jane Russo is the South Australian representative for Transcend Australia, an organization that supports parents and carers of transgender, gender diverse and non-binary children.
She said many schools now have policies in place to deal with the complexities surrounding transitioning and non-binary students, but it would be more difficult for single-sex schools.
She said the school supporting the student was the most important thing.
“They should be supported to get through Year 12,” Ms Russo told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“They have female teachers, so they might need to watch this young lady use a proper toilet.
“There’s not much to do other than be supportive and the community – both parents and students – are going through this life change.
“It doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process.”
Sorel Coward went to an all-boys school before becoming a transgender Anglican priest in South Australia who also works as a counselor for transgender people.
She said Mr Fenner describing the school as ‘supporting’ the student rather than just ‘enabling’ him to complete his education was a significant language difference.
“We know the importance of support is absolutely critical,” Ms. Sorel said.
“Children in this age group who come out are 17 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers if they are not supported.”