General Session Keynote
Creating Safe, Supportive School Spaces With No Strings Attached: A Parent’s Powerful Perspective

Hillary and Jeff Whittington

Join us for Friday’s general session which will include a keynote presentation by Hillary and Jeff Whittington, creators of a powerful, moving video documenting their five-year-old son Ryland’s transition from girl to boy. Hillary is also the author of Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child With No Strings Attached.

Ryland was born deaf and once learning to hear and speak with the aid of cochlear implants, he began asserting himself as having a gender identity opposite than that which he was assigned at birth.  The Whittingtons will share their struggles of understanding, education, and acceptance — and how they came to embrace their child’s identity with open arms. You’ll hear how important it is for Ryland to have a supportive, inclusive learning environment at school — and how you, as a health and PE teacher, can play a critical role in creating such spaces for all kids.

Supporting Transgender Youth in K-12 Schools 
Every student has the right to learn in a safe and accepting school environment. Supporting transgender students gives them the equal opportunity that all students need. According to a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, transgender adolescents attempt suicide at a much higher rate than young people whose gender identity matches the sex on their birth certificates. In fact, 51% of transgender male adolescents reported at least one suicide attempt, as did 42% of nonbinary adolescents and 30% of transgender female adolescents. All educators can benefit from fostering gender-inclusive learning environments for all students.

About the Book


This compelling, moving story—which has already touched more than seven million through a viral video created by the Whittington family—is a mother’s first-hand account of her emotional choice to embrace her transgender child. What emerges from her powerful story of unconditional love, is acceptance of others for who they are, and for doing what’s right, regardless of whether those around you understand it.