Know Your Rights

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