New Certificate Prepares Grads to Support Trans-Spectrum Children and Youth
The inaugural cohort of 21 students graduated in June and are uniquely prepared to advocate for the needs of the individuals they serve while pushing back against the rising tide of anti-trans legislation.
This June, twenty-one continuing education students earned their Gender Diversity in Children and Youth certificate from Lewis & Clark Graduate School, becoming part of the certificate’s inaugural cohort of practitioners uniquely prepared to advocate for the needs of the trans-spectrum individuals they serve while pushing back against the rising tide of anti-trans legislation.
Developed by co-directors Jenn Burleton, TransActive Gender Project Program Director, and Cari Zall, Lewis & Clark Graduate School Teacher Education Instructor, the nine-month certificate program consists of four online courses designed to increase participant’s understanding of human gender diversity and gender development while critically exploring the myths and disinformation that continue to skew public perception and awareness of trans-spectrum children, youth, and adults.
Since the beginning of 2021, more than 20 Republican-led states have passed bills regulating the lives of transgender children and youth. As the proposal and passage of anti-trans legislation continues across the United States, many of these bills impact policy change at the school and organizational level. As a result, educators, administrators, and others working in those systems have begun to recognize the need for education and advocacy.
The certificate is designed to directly address this need, with participants engaging in coursework around moving ‘from policy to practice’ that can provide a roadmap toward achieving inclusivity and compliance goals within schools, school districts, and other youth-serving organizations.
Beyond the content of this course, I learned how connections and community can turn the difficult conversations and uncomfortable spaces that are created by inequity and discrimination into opportunities for growth.
- Cari Zall, PhD, Certificate Instructor
Christin Knight, a middle school teacher in the Lake Oswego school district, applied to the program in an effort to “learn how to be a better ally for both my students and staff members I work with”.
“The program doesn’t just benefit those engaged with gender-expansive students,” noted Burleton. “It opens the door to fully embracing the human potential of every child through breaking down constructed stereotypical limitations at the individual, family, and community level.”
“This certificate is about how to affirm and advocate for all children and youth, and how to work with policy and best practices,” added Zall. “Even people who have been activists for a long time find that there is much they didn’t realize that goes into understanding the issues that wrap around supporting young people and showing them how to use their own agency.”
In addition to the certificate instruction, the cohort also found value in the community created over the course of the certificate program.
“The connections I made in this cohort are ones I hope to continue supporting and being a part of for many years,” said Knight.
Community is an essential part of advocating for trans lives, so it has been hugely impactful to know others who are willing to engage in this important work.”
- Kelly Blixhavn, Cohort Graduate
Fellow cohort member Kelly Blixhavn, a Care Coordinator for Clackamas County, echoed the importance of the connections established throughout the cohort.
“Community is an essential part of advocating for trans lives, so it has been hugely impactful to know others who are willing to engage in this important work.”
As an instructor, Zall shared similar sentiments.
“Beyond the content of this course, I learned how connections and community can turn the difficult conversations and uncomfortable spaces that are created by inequity and discrimination into opportunities for growth. The cohort model of this course gave me the opportunity to learn as much from the participants as they were learning from the instructors.”
A new online cohort begins this September, and Burleton and Zall hope to reach those outside of the Portland-metro region, expanding participation into more rural areas of Oregon and Washington.
“There are so many folks out there who are on their own or feeling isolated, but want to support the youth they work with in all the intersectional ways possible. This program can empower them and connect them, and I am hopeful we can grow the program to meet those needs in all of the places where youth are in need of affirming support in their lives.” said Zall.
On behalf of Lewis & Clark Graduate School, we wish this cohort of graduates a heartfelt congratulations.