The Kids Are Alright With It

The Trump administration’s decision to withdraw federal protections for transgender public school students constitutes poor governance, deficient humanity, and legal ignorance.  A “Dear Colleague Letter” from the Departments of Justice and Education dated May 13, 2016 detailed those protections.  The Obama administration recognized that transgender students were denied equal access to educational opportunities and did not enjoy civil rights protections available to other students.  Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX).  The new administration’s decision to abandon the protections endangers transgender students and will do far more harm than good.

In the 2011 National School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), eight out of ten transgender students said they felt unsafe at school.  Nearly six out of ten experienced verbal harassment on account of their gender expression, more than twice the rate of their peers.  A recent GLSEN survey in Arizona that included gay and lesbian students along with transgender students reached a similar conclusion.  “Schools are still hostile environments for so many of these students,” stated Ricardo Martinez, Chair of GLSEN Phoenix, “and now more than ever they need our support.”

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, a lecturer with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, College of Education and author of several books, including Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice, notes that LGBT youth live a very different life experience from their peers, and not just in the school setting.  “For one thing, they live in families who very often do not share their sexual and/or gender identity,” Dr. Blumenfeld wrote in an email message, adding, “I call these ‘diasporic’ identities — we are dispersed within families who are different than us.”  “LGBTQ youth live in families with the added fear of ‘coming out’ to others,” wrote Dr. Blumenfeld.  “They also suffer significantly higher risks of being bullied and dropping out of school.”

He blames adults more than kids for the harmful experience of transgender youth…


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