Last week, the National Education Association (NEA) applauded the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued guidance for school districts to ensure transgender students are treated with dignity in public and federally-funded schools, including having equal access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
HRC is proud to partner with the NEA for Time to THRIVE, HRC Foundation’s annual conference promoting the safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth, and Welcoming Schools, the nation's most comprehensive program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools for all students and their families.
Following the Obama Administration’s guidance, the NEA also issued their own guidance to support transgender students.
“The guidance issued by NEA, coupled with the Obama administration’s, underscores our fundamental belief that a great public school is a right of every student – free from intimidation and harassment, and safe for all students, including those who identify as transgender,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement.
While this guidance is consistent with previous guidelines and enforcement by the Departments, the treatment of transgender students has become national issue following the recent passage of the discriminatory HB2 law in North Carolina. Among its shameful provisions, HB2 prohibits public school students from using restrooms and other school facilities consistent with their gender identity.
For several years, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have been interpreting and enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sex stereotyping as unlawful sex discrimination. Additionally the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit recently upheld the Department of Education’s assertion that the nation’s civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination, including in the provision of bathrooms.
A survey by the HRC Foundation found that three-quarters of transgender students feel unsafe in school settings. A report by the Williams Institute found that half of transgender adults who were bullied in school had attempted suicide. These startling numbers can only be expected to rise if the North Carolina law, and similar bills proposed in other states, continue to target these young people.
HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program also works extensively with teachers and administrators to support transgender and gender-expansive students, create LGBTQ-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and embrace family diversity.
In 2015, the HRC Foundation, with the ACLU, Gender Spectrum, NCLR and the NEA, released Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12, which serves as the premiere best practices guide for schools nationwide.