• Swampscott principal taking time off after coming out as transgender

    By: Crystal Haynes

    Updated:

    SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. - Swampscott Principal Shannon Daniels is taking some time away from Stanley Elementary School after receiving "hurtful messages" since coming out as transgender three weeks ago.

    Daniels became the school's principal in 2012 and now prefers they/them pronouns for a gender-fluid identity, but plans to become full transitioned to female. 

    It's sparking debate and leaving parents wondering how to talk to their kids about it.

    "First and foremost, it's about open communication in both directions," said Mason Dunn, Mass. Transgender Political Coalition.

    Boston 25 News wanted to know what specific guidance is out there for school districts in handling a disclosure like Daniels. We found the State Department of Education is clear on this. The Safe Schools Program handbook says:

    "In order to provide authentic role models for all students, schools are encouraged to have diverse staff who reflect the protected categories... including gender identity and sexual orientation... it is important that school systems have work environments where openly LGBTQ staff members feel safe, supported, and valued."

    In order to provide authentic role models for all students, schools are encouraged to have diversity and that includes gender identity and sexual orientation. 

    "I think that there are so many great resources out there to have this conversation with a variety of age ranges, from pre-school up to high school," said Dunn. 

    Boston 25 News also found a 36-page manual from the National Education Association outlining institutional actions like training, involving families and addressing issues in class.

    "This is a really amazing opportunity for youth to understand and learn new experiences, just like youth are learning about all of these different world views and ideas," said Dunn. 

    The NEA manual also gives suggestions for individual actions like, invite students to talk, intervene if you see something inappropriate, and adopt ground rules for behavior in class.

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