Trans Students Deserve Safe and Supportive Schools

June 4, 2021 | National

As we head into this year’s LGBTQ Pride Month, we remain committed to protecting and celebrating trans childrenespecially trans children of color. 

This week, we joined 60 national civil and human rights organizations to condemn discriminatory state proposals that would harm our students and call for the full inclusion of trans students in educational opportunities, including extracurricular activities like athletics. 

Bills to exclude trans students from athletics would heighten existing experiences of discrimination and hostile school environments. 

According to GLSEN’s latest School Climate Survey, 84 percent of trans students felt unsafe at school because of their gender. Many LGBTQ students of color reported harassment or negative school experiences based on their race or ethnicity as well as their gender or sexuality. 

Discrimination and hostile school environments have been found to harm students’ academic outcomes and well-being, as LGBTQ stuents who experienced higher levels of victimization based on their gender expression were more likely to have missed school, were more likely to be disciplined at school, were less likely to plan to go to college, and had lower self-esteem and feelings of school belonging. Bills that exclude trans students from athletics further deprive trans students of access to educational opportunities and place them at greater risk of bullying, harassment, or sexual assault.

Anti-trans bills harm women’s sports and leave students especially trans and cis girls of colorvulnerable to discrmination and harassment.

These anti-trans bills attempting to exclude trans students from athletics are false solutions in search of a nonexistent problem. There is no evidence that the participation of trans girls and women has affected the level of play in states with inclusive policies. Instead, states with discriminatory policies have seen declines in participation, and these discriminatory bills would further harm women’s sports by targeting trans girls as well as cis girls who fall outside stereotypical notions of femininity. Black and brown girls —who are routinely targeted for not conforming to society’s expectations of white femininity—would be especially vulnerable to the gender scrutiny invited by certain state bills.

Rather than feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, students deserve to have all of their identities supported and celebrated in school.

Students deserve safe, healthy, and inclusive learning environments and access to equitable educational opportunities, including extracurricular activities like athletics. Allowing trans students to be their authentic self and to fully participate in educational opportunities as themselves is essential to making that vision a reality. 

With an unprecedented number of anti-trans bills across the country and continued violence and discrimination against transgender people—especially trans women of color—it’s more important than ever for state and local leaders to reject attacks on trans students and enact policies that protect trans students from discrimination.