Support Safe Schools for Transgender Students

Imagine not being able to use the bathroom at school, or being called the wrong name by your teachers or principal. All too often, that’s what transgender students face in school, making it impossible for them to attend school safely.

A new ad, “Hallway” produced by MAP and released today in partnership with GLSEN shows how just how harmful it can be to force transgender students to use a separate restroom, putting them at risk of bullying and abuse.

Read more about “Hallway” and the Safe Schools Movement in this exclusive from Teen Vogue.

Everyone, including transgender students, cares about safety and privacy in restrooms and locker rooms. School districts across the country have successfully worked to ensure that transgender students have access to facilities that match their gender identity while still protecting the privacy of all students. However, only 14 states plus the District of Columbia have laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination in schools on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation.

To fill in the gap in state laws, many school districts were turning to the federal government for protections. 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. However, the Trump administration recently rescinded that guidance, signaling that transgender students cannot count on their federal government for support. And, in February of this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced that they will no longer be investigating complaints of discrimination filed by transgender students.

According to a new brief released by today by MAP, GLSEN, and the National Center for Transgender Equality, more laws and policies are needed to ensure transgender students can fully participate in school.

Every student deserves a fair chance to learn and thrive in school—including students who are transgender. And our schools have a responsibility to protect all students from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

MAP is teaming up with GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools, to launch the Safe Schools Movement to advocate for safe schools for LGBTQ youth.

Join the Safe Schools Movement and take action today: www.glsen.org/safeschools

Third Circuit hears a case highlighting how transgender students are harassed and singled out in schools

Tomorrow, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an important case about whether transgender students can safely attend school.

The case, Doe v. Boyertown, was brought by a student under the pseudonym Joel Doe. Doe attends the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania, which allows transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. Doe is arguing that his school should be required to ban transgender male students from using the same school facilities—like restrooms and locker rooms—as other male students.

Schools are well-equipped to manage the different needs of students in these settings—and they’ve shown they can provide additional privacy for students who want it, while also ensuring that transgender students can access facilities consistent with their gender identity. Excluding transgender students from school facilities that match their gender identity is humiliating, discriminatory, and adds to the bullying and mistreatment that far too many transgender students already face. If transgender students cannot safely access a restroom, they cannot safely attend school.

According to GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey, transgender students who experience exclusion and discrimination are more likely to miss school than other students. The survey also showed that 75% of transgender students felt unsafe at school, and 70% report avoiding bathrooms at school. MAP’s 2017 report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities, further illustrates the significant hostility, discrimination, and bullying that transgender youth face in schools around the country. It also highlights the lack of explicit policy protections for transgender students in most states. (For more on the state of LGBT protections in schools around the country, see MAP’s Safe Schools Laws Equality Map.)

School policies should protect students from bullying and isolation; they shouldn’t promote it. And, a growing number of courts agree that Title IX’s ban on sex-based discrimination in education means that transgender students’ rights must also be protected. Specifically, transgender students must be allowed to use facilities that match their gender identity.

Transgender students, like other students—and like all of us—care about safety and privacy in places like restrooms and locker rooms. Every student also deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender.

INFOGRAPHICS: Transgender Youth & School Facilities

Did you know 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 is humiliating and discriminatory and adds to the bullying and mistreatment that far too many transgender students already face.

MAP’s report, released in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Education Association (NEA) in May 2017, shows how excluding transgender students from school facilities that match their gender is not only unnecessary, but profoundly harmful. As the report shows, this argument is not just about bathrooms, but it is about whether or not transgender students will be included in our public education system. Put simply, if transgender students cannot safely access a bathroom, they cannot safely attend school.

Read more in the report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities, as well as in our guide Talking About Transgender Students & School Facilities.