75 percent of transgender students feel unsafe at school
By: Andrea Sears
HARRISBURG, Pa. – School policies that force transgender students to use separate facilities harm those students and do not help anyone, according to a new report.
Although North Carolina has repealed its controversial law requiring people to use restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates, 17 other states are now considering similar legislation.
According to report author Naomi Goldberg, policy and research director with the Movement Advancement Project, there are an estimated 150,000 transgender students between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States, and such policies applied in schools can affect every aspect of their learning experience.
“Everything from the ability to go to the bathroom to their comfort level at school and their ability to participate more broadly,” she points out. “From being safe in the classroom to being able to participate in sports and being able to obtain an education.”
Last year, Pennsylvania’s Pine-Richland School District enacted an exclusionary transgender restroom and locker room policy. In February, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of that policy pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
Alex Sheldon, a co-author of the report and a research analyst with the Movement Advancement Project, says his group has written to the new secretary of education, pointing out that 13 states and hundreds of school districts around the country have laws and policies that protect transgender students.
“Appealing to Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education will highlight those successes and make clear that not allowing transgender students to access school facilities has a profound, harmful impact,” Sheldon stresses.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration withdrew a guidance instructing schools to respect transgender students’ choice of bathrooms.
That prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse its decision to hear a case brought by Gavin Grimm, a transgender student in Tennessee. Goldberg notes that school superintendents in 31 states had signed on to a brief supporting the plaintiff in that case.
“And we know from these districts that all students can go to school safely while still ensuring the dignity of transgender students,” Goldberg states.
The report was co-authored with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and released in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Education Association.