Latin America’s first school for transgender children opened in Chile and has become a safe space for its students.
The school, founded by the Chile-based Selenna Foundation, began in April 2018 at a community center in Santiago.
One of the teens who attends the school, 16-year-old Angela, experienced physical and verbal abuse at her elementary school and contemplated suicide, according to the Associated Press.
"I wanted to die," Angela told the AP. “I no longer wanted to exist because everything they were telling me was making me feel bad."
Now, Angela attends classes with more 20 other transgender students from ages 6 to 17.
Classes include the basics: math, English, science, history – along with workshops on art and photography.
Enrollment and attendance in the school is steadily increasing, and students are separated into two classes based upon age, the AP reported.
Teachers at the school are also working for free, but in March each family will have to pay $7 per child.
Transgender children reportedly often skip school to avoid discrimination and bullying. A recent law enacted in Chile allows transgender children over the age of 14 to change their name and sex in official records with their parent or guardian’s consent.
Gabriel Astete, the father of a transgender student, told the AP that his son "was being forced to go to the boys' bathroom when he wanted to go to one for girls. His self-esteem was very low in the last traditional school.”