Laws harm transgender students

The Movement Advancement Project has produced a new study has partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Educational Association to produce a new report: Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities

There are an estimated 150,000 transgender youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in America. GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey found that 75% of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression, 50% report being unable to use the name or pronoun that matches their identity and 70% report avoiding bathrooms. Excluding transgender students from school facilities that match their gender is humiliating, discriminatory, and adds to the bullying and mistreatment that far too many transgender students already face. As this report details, this issue is not just about bathrooms, but about whether or not transgender students will be included in our public education system. If transgender students cannot safely access a bathroom, they cannot safely attend school.

Despite the success of inclusive policies, the federal government has signaled that transgender students cannot count on their support or protection. In 2014, the Obama administration issued official guidance clarifying that transgender students are protected from discrimination based on Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The current administration recently rescinded that guidance, leaving transgender students at higher risk for harassment and violence. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court withdrew its decision to hear arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, in which the Court would have considered whether Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination protects transgender students. Without clear federal guidance, seventeen states have introduced legislation designed to ensure transgender students are relegated to facilities that align with the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity.

MAP, GLSEN, NCTE, and the NEA have jointly sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explaining to her that her that it's her job to protect even the transgender students.

In your first address to your department, you set a high standard: “We believe students deserve learning environments that foster innovation and curiosity, and are also free from harm. I’m committed to working with you to make this the case.”

If you are truly committed to creating safe learning environments for students, then that should mean all students, including transgender students. We urge you to read the new report, a report co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and GLSEN, in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Education Association (NEA). The report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Students & School Facilities, outlines the profound harms of exclusionary policies on transgender children—harms that can be addressed with your direction.

Singling out transgender students and telling them they must use separate restrooms is humiliating and discriminatory. Similarly, forcing transgender students into restrooms that don’t match the gender they live every day puts their safety at even greater risk.

And, excluding transgender students is needlessly harmful. As hundreds of school districts around the country have proven, ensuring transgender students can use the restroom at school jeopardizes no one’s safety, but rather it affirms the humanity and most basic needs of the students in our country’s schools.

Singling out transgender students to use certain restrooms sends a signal that they aren’t valued in the public education system — and can cause devastating physical and psychological harm.

It’s a rejection of who they are in the most core way.

--Naomi Goldberg, MAP

When we think about it, barring transgender students from bathrooms is barring them from school.

--Alex Sheldon, report co-author

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