Indignity in New York

In 2010 New York passed the Dignity for All Students Act.

The Dignity Act prohibits acts of harassment and bullying, including cyberbullying, and/or discrimination, by employees or students on school property or at a school function, including but not limited to such conduct those based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (defined to include gender identity or expression), or sex.

The Act was to go into affect in July 1, 2013.

In a new report Dignity for All? Discrimination Against Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in New York State the NYCLU is charging that he state has failed to protect students from discrimination and bullying on the basis of gender identity or expression or sexual orientation. You can download the report here.

Children’s rights remain largely misunderstood by educators and administrators.




Doing the Right Thing

Last Sunday I wrote about a meeting scheduled at which the Barnard trustees would be deciding the fate of transgender admissions at the college.

Last week turned out to be a busy week in the transgender world. Vanity Fair put Caitlyn on its cover. OSHA put whatever power it might have directly behind trans people. The Air Force made it easier for transgender people to serve. And the Barnard trustees had that meeting.

Those trustees decided that transgender women will be admitted beginning in the fall. In so doing, Barnard became the last of the famous "Seven Sisters" to do so. If you are not familiar with the Seven Sisters, they were Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley. They were given that sobriquet in 1927 to signify their parallel with the Ivy League men's colleges.

But times change and Poughkeepsie, NY's Vassar went coed in 1969. And Radcliffe, located in Cambridge, MA, began merging with Harvard in 1977 (and completed it in 1999).

In the past year Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Smith and now Barnard have opened their doors to transgender women, following the lead of California's Mills College.



That bathroom thing? Oh, yeah. It's crap.

We've seen it time and again. Someone somewhere suggests that a school district actually develop a policy to protect transgender students from bullying and sexual or physical harassment and the first thing you know the conservative media is all over "the bathroom thing."

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all have statewide nondiscrimination laws designed to protect students on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, as does the District of Columbia. Additionally, Wisconsin and New York protect students on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education today issued official guidance which makes clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. Specifically, the guidance states that "Title IX's sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.

--GLSEN, April 29, 2015

Rightwing sources: Government overreach. Title IX was never intended to protect "those kind of people."



Next Up? Barnard

 photo Barnard_zps8rzlejez.jpgBarnard College's trustees are expected to vote this coming week on the issue of transgender admissions.

Mills, Mount Holyoke, Scripps, Simmons, Bryn Mawr, and Smith have all opened their doors to transgender women in the past year.

I think certain issues just hit the zeitgeist at a certain point in time.

History is moving very quickly on this issue.

--Debora Spar, Barnard president



Boulder mom steps up for her kids

Kai Mackenzie has two children. Both were assigned male at birth...but that didn't take.

As a parent, Kai McKenzie admits it took years to understand what it meant to raise a transgender child. Kai’s oldest, Elsa, was assigned male at birth but began rejecting that identity at just two years old.

When I told her she was a boy she just screamed, ’No!’” Kai said. “I still didn’t get it.


From age two until age 8, Kai's oldest child would draw pictures of herself as a girl...and chose to dress as a girl when she could.

Kai says Elsa eventually refused to go to the bathroom and, at 8 years old, began showing signs of physical sickness when gender conversations came up.

She started increasingly just breaking down any time anyone called her a boy. I mean, just collapsing and sobbing. She came to me and said, ‘If I’m a boy, why is there no one like me? There must be something wrong with me. I wish I didn’t exist.’ And those words. Those words are a wake-up call to any parent.


So last year the Mackenzie family embraced Elsa as a girl.

But there was also Sky.



Transgender protections pass at FCPS as hate erupts

 photo Hasselbeck_transphobic_zpsm3opwkmc.jpgAfter days of rightwing rabble rousing, the rabble showed up at a business meeting of the Fairfax Public School board on Thursday held at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church. FCPS is the largest school district in Virginia and tenth largest in the country.

Here's some discussion from a meeting in April:




Suicide High School

Really, things had been going pretty well.

Smith College opens its doors to transgender women.

A Utah school selected a transgender prom queen

The New York Times started their Transgender Project

OSHA partners with NCTE re: transgender worker safety

Even Hillary Clinton makes transgender immigrants a campaign issue

I don’t think we should, you know, put children and vulnerable people into big detention facilities because I think they are at risk. I think their physical and mental health are at risk. 


 photo Mafia Boss_zpslvafhzmc.jpgIt couldn't last, I guess.

Cameron Langrell was 15 and attending Horlick High School in Racine, WI when she posted to facebook his coming out as transgender. She also wrote that he was dating a boy. And she changed her profile gender to female.

A few days later Cameron was dead.



Smith Trustees: Transgender women are women

 photo Smith-College-1304BDE8_zpsbuerja9a.jpgThe Smith College board of trustees has voted to accept that transgender women are women.

The shift to a self-identification admissions policy at the women’s college in Northampton goes into effect for students submitting applications this fall. The decision was revealed Saturday afternoon in a message to students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumnae.

Under the new admissions policy, applicants who were born male but identify as women are eligible for admission. Applicants must select “female” on the Common Application to be considered.

From the civil rights perspective, we’re saying trans women are women. What we’re doing here is really affirming that we’re a women’s college and we have an unwavering mission and identity as a women’s college.

--Smith College President Kathleen McCartney

Our clarified admission policy reflects a women's college that is steadfast in its founding mission yet evolving to reflect a changing world.

--Smith announcement

The move follows the leads of Mills College in California, and Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges in Massachusetts and Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania.



School Days

The Sodus, NY Central School District has decided to honor a request by a transgender student to use the girl's bathroom and locker room.

After a series of adults spoke against a transgender girl sharing facilities with their children, Jennifer Surridge stood up to speak. A hush fell over the proceedings.





My daughter has a civil right to be in the bathroom that she gender identifies with. And your children have the same right to be in the bathroom that they gender identify with. If they choose to leave that's a choice- my daughter is not choosing. She just is.

For years, since she was 3 or 4, she has told me she was a girl and I wasn't excepting. I didn't understand and agree with any of it because I didn't get it.

--Jennifer Surridge



"Othering" the trans kids in Nevada

The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee went out of their way to resurrect and pass a bill which had been idle in the Education Committee for a month.

Disgraced former Speaker Elect Ira Hansen is Chair of the Judiciary Committee, which is dominated by conservative Republicans.

Hansen stepped down as incoming speaker last November after his history of racist and sexist writings was revealed.

Assembly Bill 375 will now go on to the full Assembly after passing on a party-line vote.




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