Transgender Affirmation Guidelines Issued to Mental Health Professionals in Education

Recent policy revisions by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) reflect an evolving stance toward the support of transgender and gender-diverse students in the school system.

The ASCA has issued guidelines demand that school counselors recognize and use students’ self-identified names and pronouns, and facilitate access to school facilities that align with students’ gender identities.

The ASCA’s membership includes over 43,000 school counselors across the United States, and its influence extends through professional development events. These events are instrumental in disseminating the organization’s recommended practices. The association’s directives also encourage the establishment of supportive environments for LGBTQ+ students, including the formation of Genders and Sexualities Alliance Clubs.

In parallel, the NBCC, a credentialing body for counselors that certifies individuals on a global scale, has embedded in its certification exam the expectation that counselors demonstrate knowledge of and sensitivity towards gender orientation and issues. This requirement signifies a broader shift in the counseling profession towards gender-inclusive practices.

These developments in the United States contrast with the recent approach taken by several European countries. In the UK, Sweden, and Norway, health officials have initiated steps to restrict the use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for minors. This divergence highlights the ongoing international debate surrounding the treatment and support of transgender youths.

Both the ASCA and NBCC have not issued comments in response to their updated policies.