Position Statement written on behalf of The Educator Collaborative and authored by Dana Stachowiak, Christopher Lehman, and Kristi Mraz, with support from Chantal Francois, Heather Rocco, Carla España, and Maggie Beattie Roberts.
Position Statement on Supporting Transgender
Students and Educators
The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to stop investigating complaints regarding gender identity discrimination denies the basic human rights of youth, educators, and families.
Since 2014, transgender and gender non-conforming students and their families were able to file a complaint with the US Department of Education when they faced discrimination by their school based on their gender identity–such as the lack of access to bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
Title IX, which the US Department of Education is responsible for upholding, makes sex discrimination illegal. Most courts have ruled that transgender and gender non-conforming students are protected under this law. However, on February 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that it is no longer investigating or responding to complaints from transgender students regarding Title IX (NPR).
The Educator Collaborative resists hate and discrimination of all kinds. We care for and support transgender and gender non-conforming students and educators.
As educators it is our fundamental responsibility to protect and serve each and every child and ensure their right to grow and learn in a culture free from fear, hate, and bias. We urge you to contact the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights and your Congressional representatives to demand they do the same. Equally, we urge you to discuss with your local district administrators how your schools will support all students and colleagues.
We believe the U.S. Department of Education’s change in course leaves an already vulnerable population even more vulnerable.
In school, 85.7% of LGBTQ students have heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people and 40.5% heard them frequently or often (GLSEN, 2015). In one study, 30% of transgender youth report at least one suicide attempt and 42% report a history of self-injury (Peterson et. al., 2016). As educators, we are the caretakers of childhood and young adulthood, if we do not stand for every child, we are complicit in their pain and struggle.
We know students, families, colleagues, and communities flourish when schools support their transgender and gender non-conforming members.
For instance, in schools with an active “Gay Straight Alliance” program, students face lower levels of victimization, hear less negative remarks, and feel more connected to their school community (GLSEN, 2015). The time has come to decide, who will you be for children in this world? We urge you to join us in being the advocate, support & mentor that all children need – to amplify their voice when they feel silenced, to learn when they feel like sharing, to celebrate when they feel strong.
In the midst of policies that deem these lives as dispensable, we must advocate for our transgender and gender non-conforming students’ lives by engaging in ongoing research and action. Please use the resources listed below, as well as others you find, to develop inclusive, caring spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming students and educators. Additionally, we request you contact U.S. Government officials to demand action is reinstated to protect our children and colleagues.
Why support transgender and gender non-conforming students?
- Understanding the Trans Community by the Human Rights Campaign
- Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities by GLSEN
- Post-Election Survey of Youth by the Human Rights Campaign
How can I better understand the complexity of gender identity?
- Understanding the Basics by the Human Rights Campaign
- Gender Terminology Chart and the Gender Terminology: Discussion Guide by GLSEN
What can our school do to create a more inclusive environment?
- Developing a Gender-Inclusive School by Welcoming Schools
- Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools by The Gender Spectrum
- Working with Transgender Students of Color by GLSEN
- Apoyo y atención para niños(as) transgénero by Welcoming Schools
Where can I books to include in our classrooms and teaching?
- Gender-Expansive and Transgender Children: Books for Students by Welcoming Schools
- Picture Book List by The Journey Project
- Transgender YA Booklist from gayYA.org
CONTACT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES
- U.S. DOE Office of Civil Rights:
- Telephone: 800-421-3481
- Email: OCR@ed.gov
- FAX: 202-453-6012
- Congressional Switchboard (use your zip code): (202) 224-3121
- “Resist Bot” (send faxes via text messaging) text “Resist” to 50409
- U.S. DOE Office of Civil Rights:
Corey, T. & Kamenetz, A. (2018, February 12). The Education Department Says It Won’t Act on Transgender Student Bathroom Access. NPR Ed. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/02/12/585181704/the-education-department-says-it-wont-act-on-transgender-student-bathroom-access
Dooley, E. (2016, May 13). Obama to public schools: Allow transgender students access to bathrooms. ABC News. Retrieved from: http://abcnews.go.com/US/obama-administration-public-schools-transgender-students-access-bathrooms/story?id=39081956
GLSEN (2015). National school climate survey: LGBTQ students experience pervasive harassment and discrimination, but school-based supports can make a difference. Retrieved from: https://www.glsen.org/article/2015-national-school-climate-survey
Peterson, C.M., Matthews, A., Copps-Smith, & Conrad, L. (2016). Suicidality, self-harm, and body dissatisfaction in transgender adolescents and emerging adults with gender dysphoria. The Official Journal of the American Association of Suicidology, 47(4), 475-482.
Additional, Time Sensitive, Resources provided beyond the Position Statement
Where can I, or my school, find professional development on developing inclusive practices for all students, including gender inclusivity?
The Educator Collaborative offers workshops, trainings, and in-school professional development on inclusive practices. For example, co-author of this Position Statement, Dr. Dana M. Stachowiak (genderqueer non-binary trans, she/her), provides a wide range of support for schools, organizations, and universities. Contact us to request support.
Twitter Chat (February 13, 8PM EST)
Please join The Educator Collaborative’s, Dr. Dana M. Stachowiak, alongside her colleague and friend, Courtney Ferrell, as they moderate the International Literacy Associate’s Twitter chat titled, “Considering Concepts of Gender Diversity,” on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 8p EST. This chat is a part of the series, “Equity in Literacy Education: Critical Conversations for Classroom Action,” hosted by the International Literacy Association. You can find more information about all the Twitter chat series here. Use #ILAchat.
If you are attending the International Literacy Association’s Annual Conference in Austin, TX this summer, make it a point to attend the Equity in Education Program’s featured panel titled, “Literacy and Our LGBTQ Students: Starting and Sustaining Schoolwide Transformation.” The Educator Collaborative’s own Kate Roberts and Dana Stachowiak are panelists.