“They’re human beings too”: Supporting Trans Students in Green Hope High School

Flexible support systems at Green Hope High School give transgender students a helping hand to their voices, nurturing their confidence in turn.


Transgender students find comfort and safety in accepting learning environments at school. (Katie Rainbow)

Megan Khor, Staff Writer

“For me, it’s not a defining part of my life, but it is a very big one,” stated Green Hope High School transgender student, Riley Do* 

According to Do, having support systems in school helps transgender students’ ability to grow as individuals. Transgender students can face a varying amount of challenges within a school environment such as bullying and ostracism. However, having the safety of an accepting learning environment helps them surpass these obstacles. 

In an interview with The GH Falcon, Student Assistance Program (SAP) Counselor, Ms. Stephanie Eason said,“We [the staff at Green Hope High School] meet students where they are. An example of that would be making sure that they feel safe and comfortable in the courses that they’re taking with their peers and that they have a healthy, safe, overall well being within the school setting,” she said.

As a counselor who talks about the suicide rates within the LGBTQ+ community to Civics classrooms, Ms. Eason added, “It’s very important that we support our transgender students to make sure that these things don’t occur, and if they do, we have to be there to support them. They are human beings too, so they definitely deserve that respect.” 

Green Hope’s Dean of Students Justin McIntyre has worked at Green Hope for 11 years. He stated that, “We always look at them as individuals, not just as one group of students. Students can have the same identity from a gender orientation standpoint, but have different needs. It’s always important to customize our approach with the student based on what they present to us.” 

We always meet them [students] where they are, but we always look at them as individuals, not just as one group of students.”

— Justin McIntyre, Dean of students

Mr. McIntyre added, “We can’t affect how a specific person views transgender outside of Green Hope, but what we can do is help them with coping with someone who may present some challenges because of how the student identifies. It’s really about the coping skills and knowing that we meet them where they are, and that we support them without judging them.”

For transgender student Emerson Solis*, having an adaptable support system at school helps them feel more accepted. 

“I think the best way trans students are supported at GH would definitely be through my teachers. A lot of them asked for my pronouns at the beginning of the school year and that’s really helpful because a lot of times it’s awkward to introduce yourself,” stated Solis. 

Solis transitioned during high school, and faced internal conflict on whether or not they should stay in the school community.

“I tried to transfer out of Green Hope when I was transitioning because I did not want people to use the wrong name or the wrong pronouns when I went back to school. I thought that transferring to a different school would help me alleviate that issue by starting over, but it’s actually been really worthwhile to come out to people that I know here and work on the relationships I’ve already built. I think it made my time at Green Hope a lot more meaningful with this public transition I’ve had,” stated Solis.

Even though I tried to run away and try to restart my life in a way, it’s been worthwhile to continue with the relationships that I’ve had.”

— Emerson Solis*

Riley Do* spoke on the topic of misgendering, “It can be detrimental. If not for me, I know there’s five more trans kids that have reacted more viscerally and negatively if they are perceived as a gender that they are not.” 

Misgendering and deadnaming are two barriers that most transgender adolescents would rather avoid as it lowers their self esteem. To misgender an individual is to address them with the wrong pronouns, while deadnaming is to address them with a past name of theirs that they no longer identify with.

Green Hope students find that ostracism and misgendering is not as bad as other communities. “Something that’s just natural as a part of being in the function of society is ostracism from social groups, but it hasn’t been that bad at Green Hope, thankfully because we are in a progressive area,” stated Solis.

Though counseling is a helpful tool at Green Hope, teachers and students play a large role in its acceptance of others as well. “The majority of the staff and my teachers are pretty chill with using pronouns. Those that have asked use them most of the time, and the times they don’t it’s an accident, not out of malice,” added Do.

Both Solis and Do also agreed that clubs can provide them a safe place at school to talk about their gender identities and the challenges that may come up from it.

“Finding your people and not changing yourself for other people is a great way to set up relationships that are most meaningful to you. That way you’re not stuck in a cycle where you’re trying to perform for other people and they may not accept you for who you are,” stated Solis.

Finding your people and not changing yourself for other people is a great way to set up relationships that are most meaningful to you.”

— Emerson Solis*

Names with an asterisk (*) next to them are anonymous names used to maintain the privacy of the students interviewed.