NEW YORK, November 16, 2011 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) today jointly announced the launch of their groundbreaking Model District Policy for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.
The first-ever national policy resource co-authored by GLSEN and NCTE offers solutions for school districts to incorporate into existing policies and procedures that create safer and respectful school environments for all students regardless of their gender identity or gender expression.
Data from GLSEN's Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools revealed that two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed
their gender (65%). The study also found that transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment had significantly lower GPAs than those who experienced lower levels of harassment (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 2.2. vs. 3.0, gender expression: 2.3 vs. 2.8, gender: 2.2 vs. 2.7).
"Educators work every day to offer all of their students a safe and respectful school atmosphere that ensures their healthy development and growth, but transgender and gender nonconforming students frequently remain unsupported and ultimately left behind in the school system," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "This model policy was developed out of a growing need for addressing issues related to gender identity and gender expression within a school setting. Research has shown that a comprehensive district policy is a tangible solution for improving the school experience for transgender and gender nonconforming students."
"We're so proud to work with GLSEN on this policy," said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. "Transgender youth are everywhere, and schools are beginning to understand that providing for their safe and fair treatment is not a burden, but a core part of the educational mission. Schools are increasingly attuned to providing a safe and supportive environment for a diverse school community, and gender diversity has to be part of that picture. This groundbreaking model policy is here to help schools find the right solutions to support and educate all students."
The guide contains model language that can be used in drafting district policy and is designed to be flexible for school districts to comply with their own specific needs and respective state laws and policies. Examples and policy recommendations are included in the resource that address issues commonly faced in school by transgender and gender nonconforming students.
Key issues covered in the model policy include:
- Polices that address bullying, harassment and discrimination
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Documentation (e.g., school records)
- Names and pronouns
- Dress codes
- Training and professional development
"There is a real interest and hunger among school administrators and teachers to create a welcoming climate for transgender youth," said Keisling. Schools across the country have already taken leadership on protecting transgender students, and this resource builds on their experiences to assist other schools that are looking for answers for how to change school policies that affect transgender people."
In addition to the Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, GLSEN has developed a suite of policy tools that support anti-bullying measures for local school districts and the passage of safe schools laws and policies on the state and federal level. GLSEN also partners with local, state and national coalitions to ensure that the best and most inclusive safe schools policies are considered, passed and implemented.
"The model district policy and other resources that we regularly produce are designed with the mindset that a quality K-12 education is a fundamental right for all students," said Byard. "GLSEN will continue to lend its expertise, perspective and support for ensuring this right is extended to every student in school regardless of their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. By empowering transgender people and our allies to educate and influence policymakers and others, NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality in our nation's capital and around the country. For more information about NCTE and its work, please visit www.transequality.org.