How Schools Can Support Transgender Students
Classrooms and schoolyards can be unsafe and intimidating for transgender or gender-nonconforming (TGNC) students—or they can be a welcoming environment where everyone feels part of a community and is encouraged to learn.
Whether or not your state or locality has a statute offering explicit legal protection from discrimination, there are a range of policies that schools can adopt to support TGNC youth on their own. Here’s a checklist of questions to consider:
- Does your school have an antidiscrimination policy that includes gender identity and expression? (SCHOOLS RESOURCE: Connecticut passed a law in 2011 that is an excellent model for states and schools. Massachusetts’ Department of Elementary Education also recently issued a guidance for schools to conform to the state’s law, enacted in 2012, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.)
- Are TGNC students allowed to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity? (SCHOOLS RESOURCE: See Massachussets schools guidance for model restrooms policy.)
- Do students know what procedures to follow and who to talk to if they’re intimidated, threatened or harassed because of their gender identity or expression?
- Does the school respond swiftly and fairly to incidents of discrimination, harassment or bullying based on gender identity and expression?
- Do faculty and staff members respect and honor students’ gender identity and expression and use the pronouns the student prefers?
- Do school records reflect transgender students’ gender identity and preferred name, but with any private details separated from classroom rosters?
- If there is a school dress code, does it respect gender identity? Are students encouraged to be themselves at events such as school dances, field trips and graduation?
- Does your school hold assemblies and/or invite guest speakers to discuss transgender issues?
- In sports, are transgender students respected for their individual abilities, without coaches or other players making biased assumptions? (SPORTS RESOURCE: The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) offers a guide for transgender athletes)
If you need more information about transgender youth and their legal rights, contact Lambda Legal at 866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/help.