Gender Diversity

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Purpose of this policy

To ensure schools support:same sex attracted, gender diverse, transgender and intersex students and affirm their gender identity.

Policy

Schools must take reasonable steps to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. The Department requires schools to support same sex attracted, gender diverse, transgender and intersex students by:

  • providing a positive, supportive and respectful environment
  • respecting privacy and confidentiality in relation to all students
  • supporting students who want to affirm or transition gender identity at school
  • challenging all forms of homophobia and transphobia to prevent discrimination and bullying
  • giving proper consideration to the impact of any requirement to participate in school activities according to gender identity or an assumption of heterosexuality (e.g. school formals, sports activities, camps).

Key terms

Gender diversity: refers to a diverse range of different gender expressions and identities. This term includes those who may identify as transgender, gender diverse, genderfluid, or who otherwise feel that their gender identity does not align with the sex assigned to them at birth and/or society’s expectations of gender.

Gender identity: is defined in legislation 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.

Gender transition/affirmation: refers to the process whereby a transgender or gender diverse person socially and/or medically affirms their gender identity. There is no single moment of gender affirmation; it is an ongoing and individual process which may or may not involve medical support.

Intersex: means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:a) neither wholly female nor wholly male orb) a combination of female and male orc) neither female nor male.Being intersex is about biological variations, not about a person’s gender identity. People with intersex variations share the same range of sexual orientation and gender identities as people with no intersex variations.

Sexual diversity: refers to a diverse range of different sexualities, identities, and romantic or sexual attractions. This term includes those who may identify as same sex attracted, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual or who may use other terms.Sexual orientation: is defined in legislation as meaning a person’s sexual orientation towards: (a) persons of the same sex; or (b) persons of a different sex; or (c) persons of the same sex and persons of a different sex.

Promoting an inclusive school environment

Schools should:

  • ensure that their policies, practices and activities are inclusive and do not have the effect of treating any student unfavourably because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
  • take positive action to eliminate discrimination or harassment of students on the basis of their sexual or gender identity or intersex status. 

For further guidance on how to actively and positively support same sex attracted, gender diverse, transgender and intersex students, visit the Department’s Student Health and Wellbeing webpage​.

The Safe Schools Unit can also support your school with free staff professional development, resources, tailored support, planning, and guidance – see the Safe School site for contact details.

Gender transition/affirmation student support plans

Schools must work with students transitioning or affirming their gender identity to prepare and implement a student support plan.

The plan should be developed in consultation with the student and their parents or carers, where possible, and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it reflects the needs of the student at the different stages of their transition, and at the different stages of their education.

It is important that the student is at the centre of creating their own support plan, and consulted in all decision making. In preparing the plan, the school should consider the following:

  • maintaining appropriate privacy and confidentiality – not everyone in the school needs to know whether a student is transgender. Consider the privacy of the student, and only share information to those who have an appropriate reason to know
  • consulting on and confirming:
    • the referencing of and recording of student’s name, gender identity, and pronouns (he, she, they etc.)
    • the use of toilets, showers and change rooms that meet the needs of the student. This should be based on the student’s gender identity and whichever facilities they will feel most comfortable using. Students without a disability should not be required to use disabled toilets or facilities
    • the appropriate uniform that reflects the gender identity of the student and meets the school’s dress or uniform code
  • developing a communications plan that includes what information staff members and other students need to know to best support the student
  • providing support to staff through professional learning and briefings on the arrangements for the student where appropriate
  • updating school policies to include support for transgender and gender diverse students and responses to transphobic bullying.

Parental consent

There may be circumstances in which students wish or need to undertake gender transition without the consent of their parent/s (or carer/s), and/or without consulting medical practitioners.

If no agreement can be reached between the student and the parent/s regarding the student’s gender identity, or if the parent/s will not consent to the contents of a student support plan, it will be necessary for the school to consider whether the student is a mature minor.

If a student is considered a mature minor they can make decisions for themselves without parental consent and should be affirmed in their gender identity at school. Department policy addresses situations in which students, though under the age of 18 years, may be sufficiently mature to make their own decisions, see Decision Making by Mature Minors

Legal considerations

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.

Anti-discrimination laws:

  • require schools to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, including by taking positive steps to promote an inclusive school environment
  • prohibit direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of 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. 

Related legislation

  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

 Related policies

Department resources

  • Bully Stoppers - supports students, parents, teachers and principals in working together to make sure schools are safe and supportive places, where everyone is empowered to help reduce the incidence of bullying in all Victorian schools
  • Sexuality Education – provides more information on the delivery of sexuality education in Victorian schools.

Other resources

  • Minus18- provided mental health and peer mentoring support to same sex attracted and gender diverse young people from all over Australia.
  • National Safe Schools Framework - provides Australian schools with a vision and a set of guiding principles that assist school communities to develop positive and practical student safety and wellbeing policies.
  • Rainbow Network - a network of SSAITGD youth groups with activities including; the exchanging of ideas, information and resources; the discussion of issues that may emerge when working with young people, their families, schools and community agencies; and developing of partnerships between agencies and schools aimed at empowering young people to participate in decision making and community development.
  • Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne Gender Service - provides children and adolescents up to 17 years with a multidisciplinary approach to the assessment, care and treatment of gender dysphoria.     
  • Transcend - a parent led support network and information hub for transgender children and their families in Australia.
  • Transgender Victoria - works with and for, the trans community as well as its allies, to create positive change in areas that impact the human rights of trans people.TGV supports direct assistance to transgender people through establishing and implementing appropriate and high quality direct services, as well as other activities that are consistent with this.
  • Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission - educates people about the rights and responsibilities contained in the Charter reports annually to the government about the operation of the Charter.
  • Ygender - a peer led social support and advocacy group based in Melbourne.
  • Zoe Belle Gender Collective -  provides online support, referrals, recommendations and resources for the greater trans and gender diverse community in Victoria.