A majority of youths' lives are spent in school and it is crucial that schools be a safe and supportive space for transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Many transgender and gender non-conforming youth face hostility, harassment, bullying, violence, and microaggressions in their schools. These incidents can come from anyone at school not just peers but also from staff and educators. In addition, youth of color, or more specifically Latinx youth, may also face issues around immigration status, racial stereotypes, or profiling by teachers and administrators.
Parents have played a large role in educating others and advocating on behalf of their children. There are a number of resources available for parents, educators, and other supporting adults, but few resources are productions made for and by transgender and gender non-conforming youth.
The video below from The Chronicle of Higher Education is a video made by transgender and gender non-conforming youth to their professors. This is a great example of how powerful and important their voices are to changing and creating safe spaces.
The information shared by the youth in the video illustrate the large and small obstacles trans* youth face in the educational system. Coming out every semester, being outed, skipping classes because they feel unsafe, not being able to use the restroom, gendered student housing, and schools not having resources for students and staff are barriers to education for trans youth.
These experiences are not limited to youth in college but are shared by young people enrolled in K-12 as well. While trans* youth encounter a number of obstacles, the most publicized debate has been about bathroom policies. Youth should be allowed to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity but schools across the country have different policies. Some force youth to use the restroom that corresponds with their assigned sex at birth, while other schools have ostracized youth and forced them to use a private bathroom. Many of the fears and arguments about trans* people in bathrooms come from "concerned parents" that "fear for other children's' safety" if using the bathroom by a trans* person. Bathrooms have become a central part of school experiences for trans* youth so much that a number of resources for schools and parents of trans* children include bathroom policy suggestions.
Bathrooms are important! But schools must dig deeper and do more than construct bathroom policies and provide more than one-day teacher in-service days. Schools must address the concerns of youth and center them in creating and sustaining change. Schools and youth would also need to collaborate to prepare educators in order to go beyond surface issues and make real change. The graph below exemplifies how we can scratch the surface.
Note: the following infographics were produced and shared by Trans Student Educational Resources
In this infographic we see how bullying impact trans* youth. the infographic illustrates the discrimination and harrasment trans* youth deal with on a day to day basis.
It is important to know why visibility and meaningful change is necessary for trans* youth. The infographic below provides correlations on visibility and positive outcomes for Trans* youth.
As mentioned above, immigration status is a complex layer that impacts the lives of trans* Latinx youth. In the following infographic we see that undocumented people in the U.S. are at greater risk of having insecure employment, housing, income, and healthcare.
Trans* Latinx youth must be informed and supported in the fight for education equality. Though some of this information may be inaccurate because of the current administration, youth can use this information to become informed agents of change.
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Safe Schools Coalition
Southern Arizona Gender Alliance
TransYouth Family Allies
University of Arizona - LGBTQI Affairs
2015 U.S. Transgender Survey: Report on the Experiences of Latino/a Respondents (2015). ARCUS Foundation.
Chen‐Hayes, S. F. (2001), Counseling and Advocacy With Transgendered and Gender‐Variant Persons in Schools and Families. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 40: 34-48. doi:10.1002/j.2164-490X.2001.tb00100.x
From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America (2001). GLSEN and Harris Interactive.
Griffin, P., & Ouellett, M. (2003). From silence to safety and beyond: Historical trends in addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues in K-12 schools. Equity & Excellence in Education, 36(2), 106-114. doi:10.1080/10665680303508
Hatred In The Hallways: Violence and Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students in U.S. Schools (2001). Human Rights Watch.
Documenting the Lives and Stories of Transgender Latinx Communities. (2017). Human Rights Campaign.
Kirshner, B. (2015). Youth activism in an era of education inequality. London;New York;: New York University Press.
Little, J. N. (2001). Embracing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered youth in school-based settings. Child and Youth Care Forum, 30(2), 99-110. doi:10.1023/A:1011681218718
Sausa, L. A. (2005). Translating research into practice: Trans youth recommendations for improving school systems. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education, 3(1), 15-28. doi:10.1300/J367v03n01_04
Schools in Transition