By Amy B Wang , The Associated Press WriterThe first time a transgender student at a Washington public high school took a seat on a school board meeting was just a year ago.
In the years since, the school district has adopted a variety of approaches, from using video to get students to pay attention to what they’re hearing, to creating a Web site for parents to submit questions and answers.
But one of the most important lessons the district has learned from the experience has been the importance of engaging students with the information they’re learning.
The district’s Transgender Education Center, which was formed in 2012 by the district and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), has worked to provide transgender students with access to a variety and diverse information and resources.
The center offers guidance on how to teach LGBT students and includes classes for both students and teachers.
Students can attend a course, talk to an adviser and learn more about their own identities.
The first day of a class was held Monday, Feb. 24, when the board heard about a transgender girl who had been transitioning for several months.
She has been in the school for just two months, and she wanted to participate in the board’s annual policy review.
The meeting was to discuss the district’s policies, including whether to adopt a policy that allows transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The meeting started with a brief presentation about transgender identity and the importance in schools of teaching students to respect their identities.
As the session went on, more than 50 students, many of them transgender, stood up and took turns speaking.
One of them, Kameron Dore, was visibly upset.
“I want to be here,” she said.
“We have so much to be proud of.”
Dore, who identifies as male, is a transgender teen who was assigned male at birth.
Her school’s policy allows transgender boys to use girls’ bathrooms and showers, but not girls’ restrooms.
Dore’s parents are concerned that the policy would make her a victim of bullying and harassment.
“It’s very important that I feel safe,” Dore said.
Dore said she has not been able to use a girls’ restroom for several years, and her mother, Stephanie Dore of Washington, D.C., wants her daughter to be able to do so, too.
Dores and her partner have asked the school to let her use the boys’ restroom in the event that she needs it.
The board was not unanimous on the matter.
Two of the five board members said they opposed the plan, and the other four voted in favor.
The school board’s meeting was interrupted for about five minutes by the school’s director of student services, who said that the school will use a different restroom in case a transgender boy wants to use it.
Afterward, the board decided that Dore could use the girls’ bathroom, and a panel of six teachers and administrators voted to accept her request.
The transgender student, who was named Emily, said the experience was a huge step forward for the district.
“The most important thing for me was that they actually listened to me,” she told The Associated 1st grader, the first transgender student to attend the school.
Emily has been transitioning since she was 10 years old, and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 15.
For the first year of her transition, she could not wear a dress or hair braids.
“It was just too difficult for me to be a girl,” she added.
She said her peers at school, mostly girls, were very supportive of her.
“They were all like, ‘I love you,’ ” she said, adding that she has been accepted by her classmates.
“When I was transgender, I didn’t know any other gender.”
Emily is the first in a line of students who are transitioning from female to male at the school, which is one of many school districts across the country that are trying to expand their services to include transgender students.
Schools across the nation are taking note of the growing need for transgender students and are adding transgender-specific classes, which are designed to address the needs of transgender students, said Matt Hurd, who runs a school-wide service that provides resources for transgender children.
The number of transgender high school students in the United States has doubled in the past decade.
According to the American Association of University Women, about 6 percent of high school seniors identify as transgender.
In some schools, such as Washington Public Schools, transgender students are offered the opportunity to be teachers.
For now, transgender teachers at Washington are limited to speaking to students.
But the school board will expand the options for transgender teachers in the coming years.
In June, the Washington Board of Education will consider the topic of allowing transgender teachers to be certified as counselors and other school counselors.
In the meantime, the district will not change the gender identity of transgender teachers.
The Dore family has a