This year, the Taipei American School (TAS) administration introduced a new policy for transgender and gender nonconforming students attending the school. Spearheaded by political science teacher and former lawyer Dr. Adam Nelson, Head of School Dr. Sharon Hennessey, and members of the school board, the six-page long policy includes a dedicated anti-bullying policy, the school’s official definitions of words pertaining to the issue, a definition of the scope where the policy is enforced, and insurance of privacy for gender non-conforming students at TAS. “We began the process of drafting this proposal at the beginning of the last school year,” says Dr. Nelson. “We wanted to protect our students.”
“We’re lucky that professionals who have experience in these areas are working on this policy to serve the community,” says Upper School Vice Principal Mr. Andrew Lowman.
Dr. Nelson believes that the new policy is a natural extension of several decisions TAS has made to aid students, including a robust, evolving, set of anti-bullying policies. “This is a result of the many questions that we have already been asked about transgender students in the community, and questions that we have asked ourselves. There have been gender nonconforming students in the past, and there will be students in the future.”
According to Upper School principal Dr. Richard Hartzell, there are currently no transgender or gender nonconforming students in the Upper School known to the school administration. “The policy was more of a proactive measure,” says Dr. Hartzell. “Especially in the age of President Trump, when being LGBT can be dangerous.” Recently, President Donald Trump has taken measures to show withdrawal of governmental support for transgender rights. On Feb. 22, President Trump had revoked an Obama administration memo, which recommended that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Melanie Anderson-Salo (‘20), a pansexual student, is happy to see the school administration taking these measures to further help the LGBTQ+ community. “Typically at TAS, people are already more accepting about sexual and gender identity,” says Melanie. “But I think this policy makes things even better for people in the community.”
The full school policy is available from pages 24 to 30 of the student handbook.
Featured photo: Stephanie Mayer (’17) poses in a custom-made shirt sold by the LGBT Club. Photo courtesy of the LGBT Alliance Club.