Policy 252

Youth and staff from the Attic, Philadelphia’s LGBT Youth Center, teamed up with Associate Professor Amy Hillier to encourage the School District of Philadelphia to develop a comprehensive policy enumerating the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) youth. After meeting with the School District’s Director of Rights and Responsibilities in November 2015, the team submitted a draft policy for the School District’s consideration in the spring of 2016. With only minor additions from School District staff, the School Reform Commission unanimously passed the policy (252) in June 2016. 

Critical Participatory Action Research

After drafting a policy for the School District of Philadelphia enumerating the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students (Policy 252), our team began interviewing high school youth to learn more about their experience. Associate Professor Amy Hillier and  SP2 doctoral studentKel Kroehle worked with staff member Phantazia Washington and the youth in the Bryson Institute’s Justice League to secure funding for the study from Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI), through their Community Driven Research Day. Youth researchers Pau’laijha Sparrow-Kutcher, Rahsaan Galloway, Hazel Edwards, and Giana Graves helped develop the interview protocol and conduct interviews with 22 transgender youth. We chose Participatory Action Research (PAR) as our method in order to ensure that youth were involved throughout the research process, following the PAR mantra, “Nothing about us without us is for us.” As part of this project, we created an 8-minute video about Policy 252. (URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTbifbMwSIU)


LGBTQ Housing & Lending Profile

This mixed-methods study is coming soon! 

Gender, Housing, & Asset Accumulation

According to the Consumer Federation's Review of more than 4 million home loans, single female homeowners were over-represented among risky loans by 46% during the housing crisis and African American women were 256% more likely to receive a sub-prime loan than a White man with a similar financial profile. Dr. Castro Baker's research in this area explores the implications of these trends on a generation of women  who experienced extreme asset depletion during the Great Recession.



Kelly Writer’s House (KWH) sponsors a monthly writing group for transgender and gender non-conforming youth ages 14-22 that features trans-identified facilitators and transgender and GNC-identified guest writers who lead the group. The group is held at Kelly Writer’s House or the Penn LGBT Center and led by social worker and writer Andrew Spiers. The writing group is being funded by KWH and a gift to Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice. (URL: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/involved/outreach/transgnc/)


Families and Gender Transitions


Although research on transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) has expanded in recent years, there remains a gap in scholarship on the experience of coming out. This study explores the experience of transgender and gender non-conforming T/GNC young adults when first sharing their gender identities with their parents. Much of the existing literature frames families in rigid binary categories as either supportive or unsupportive rather than a continuum that changes over time. This study will look at how parents and children navigate moving through this continuum of support and acceptance by gathering narrative accounts of parents and children about how their relationship develops over time.


This study involves interviewing parents and T/GNC young adults about their gender transition. The focus of the interviews will be phenomenological in nature; that is, the focus of the interviews will be on capturing the lived experience of a phenomenon, in this case gender transition. Specific research questions include:

  1. What is the experience of “coming out,” from the perspective of young trans adults and their parents? What does it look like?
  2. What does family support and acceptance look like to young trans adults? To parents? How does it change over time?
  3. What does “transition” look like for young trans adults? For their families?
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