The Glennie School, Toowoomba.
The Glennie School, Toowoomba. Contributed

School welcomes first transgender student

A PRESTIGIOUS Toowoomba girls' school has welcomed its first transgender student.

Writing to parents to inform them of the news on Saturday afternoon, The Glennie School principal Kim Cohen said she had "thought long and hard about how to pen this letter as I have been unsure about the response that it may receive".

"In our Middle/Senior Years, we have a young girl who was born into a boy's body," Mrs Cohen wrote.

"I know this is a concept many of us may struggle to grasp, but please take time out to think about how much harder it must have been for her to make the realisation.

"I did not hesitate to accept her enrolment as I know within this nurturing community she will be in the very best place for her to excel and be the very best that she can be."

Mrs Cohen said she had hoped to give the student "time to settle before informing the community of her situation" to allow for people to get to know her "without any preconceived ideas".

Glennie School Principal Kim Cohen has welcomed the school's first transgender student.
Glennie School Principal Kim Cohen has welcomed the school's first transgender student.

But when the school became aware of rumours that surfaced earlier than anticipated, Mrs Cohen decided to address them in full.

"As a Christian School where we strive to live by the teachings of Jesus, I believe our job is an easy one - we accept those we perceive as different to us, we treat them with the same respect, integrity and compassion that we do all members of the community, and we do so with love," she said.

Mrs Cohen said she was sending the email in the hope that parents would have open conversations with their daughters.

In a statement to The Chronicle yesterday afternoon, she said she had received more than 50 messages of goodwill and offers of assistance since the decision was made public, with just one critical email.

"This is not a new issue for school principals, but it is heartening to see Glennie's core values of compassion, respect, integrity and courage manifest themselves in such kind words and actions," she said.

MESSAGES OF SUPPORT FROM THE COMMUNITY: 

  • PLEASE tell these beautiful, brave parents and their extraordinary daughter that we are with them, standing shoulder to shoulder all the way; they will be in our prayers. If there is anything we can ever do to assist them or the school, please just ask.
  • I MUST admit, (husband's name) and I needed a little time to digest this information, not negatively, rather just time to process it. I have great faith that our school community will rally together to support this student and her family during what must be an uncertain and difficult time for them.
  • SO proud of you and the school for taking this step and being so open and yet so respectful and sensitive to this situation.
  • WE welcome you to the Glennie community with open arms. It is wonderful news to hear you have joined The Glennie School. WELCOME.
  • I WISH sincerely that Glennie will become a secure, supportive, happy place for you all and you have our support and our daughter's support. Should your daughter need friendship or support at school I'm sure she would find it with our daughter.
  • CAN I with the growing respect, say how very assured I am, that my daughter is attending a progressive, inclusive and equitable school that values the individual in form rather than as cultural rhetoric.
  • I HAVE shared this with (daughter's name) and trust that the entire Glennie community will accept and support this young girl... with true Glennie spirit.

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