Safety Issues for Transgender Students

November 20th is International Transgender Day of Remembrance, marking the violent deaths of hundreds of transgender individuals over the years.  Many of us have large gaps in our knowledge when it comes to understanding the transgender community and may not always take a stand for the rights of these individuals.  However, it is important that we educate ourselves and take a stand as we face the reality that Lawrence King, a junior high student, was murdered by a classmate for dress that is gender non-conforming and only 13 states in this country include gender identity under their hate crime laws. 

Educators play a key role in fostering an environment that is safe and understanding for transgender youth.  In a country where 55% of transgender youth are physically harassed and 81% are sexually harassed for their gender expression, our schools have a responsibility to these students.  The Transgender Law Center based out of California has a number of resources for anyone interested in learning about and advocating for the rights of transgender students. 

Take a look at the following publications from the Transgender Law Center, Beyond the Binary: A Tool Kit for Gender Identity Activism in Schools and Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies, and consider the following:

  1. What do you need to learn to better understand and advocate for the rights of transgender students?  How will you go about educating yourself on this topic?
  2. What policies does your school have in place to protect the rights and safety of transgender students?  How could those policies be improved?
  3. Does your school have safe bathroom access for transgender students?  If not, what can you do to change that?
  4. Does your school’s dress code discriminate against transgender students?  How?
  5. What can you do in your classroom to make sure it is a safe space for transgender students?

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