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Laws Haven’t Kept Trans Kids Safe In Schools. Could This New Guide Help?

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The National Center For Lesbian Rights recently created Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, a guide to help educators make children feel safe and welcomed in schools, no matter their gender identity.

Their guide highlights the best strategies for parents and teachers to help meet the needs of transgender students, stating that “many are unfamiliar” with the needs of transgender students and that many educators have concerns about “their own capacity to support their transgender students or hesitate to act because of personal feelings.”


The Dignity For All Students Act passed in 2010 in New York prohibited discrimination in schools on the basis of actual or perceived gender, but the harassment in schools still has not changed. According to a June report by the New York Civil Liberties Union, many teachers and administrators refuse to acknowledge students’ preferred names and gender pronouns, and bar students from using their preferred bathrooms and locker rooms. During the 2012-13 school year,  New York schools reported 24,478 incidents of harassment and discrimination and 4,756 (19 percent) of those incidents related to a student’s perceived or actual gender.

Asaf Orr, the Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and one of the lead authors on the project, released a statement saying:

“Having worked with many transgender students and their families, I know that school administrators want to do what they can to meet the needs of their transgender students and comply with Title IX. Unfortunately, many are unsure about how to achieve that goal.”

The guide features gender definitions, strategies and tips in supporting trans students. The guide is important because it points out that children begin to understand gender at age four and all children, no matter their gender or gender identity should feel supported, safe and understood in school.

In order for this guide to be useful though, school districts, boards and administrators will have to make learning and using it mandatory. Hoping for change and passing laws won’t protect trans youth in school, but following the guide certainly could help. You can read the full guide here.

(featured image via DoDEA Pacific)

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