Safe is Not Enough: A Resource for Educators

Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant

For caring teachers who want to support their LGBTQ students and families, there are many resources at their disposal. One book to add to your professional development reading list is Safe is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students, by Michael Sadowski. HRC is honored to have its Welcoming Schools program highlighted in Sadowski’s book.

Welcoming Schools comes into the picture in his chapter “Making It Elementary.” The Welcoming Schools approach is unique in its focus on elementary schools, which have historically been underserved when it comes to LGBTQ and gender topics. The chapter references Welcoming Schools lessons, art projects, glossaries, book lists, and other resources.

The importance of safe and inclusive schools cannot be underestimated. Even before the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the protective guidance for transgender students, LGBTQ youth have struggled due to the 2016 election.

HRC Foundation recently released the results of a groundbreaking post-election survey of more than 50,000 young people ages 13-18 revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on youth across the United States. Findings include:

  • Among young people who reported seeing bullying and harassment, 70 percent had witnessed incidents motivated by race or ethnicity, 63 percent had seen incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 59 percent had seen incidents motivated by immigration status, and 55 percent had witnessed incidents motivated by gender.
  • Over the past 30 days, about half of transgender youth reported feeling hopeless and worthless most or all of the time, and 70 percent said that these and similar feelings have increased in the past 30 days.

Schools should absolutely start with safety, but they can’t stop there. According to Sadowski, they must “move beyond the notion of ‘better’ schools for LGBTQ youth toward an ideal educational experience for these students.”

Now more than ever, LGBTQ youth need to know they have support.  You can become a better advocate by attending HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference, the nation’s premier convening for K-12 educators, professional counselors and other youth-serving professionals on LGBTQ youth safety, inclusion and well-being. The 2017 conference will be held April 28-30 in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association.  

HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.

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HRC Mississippi Attends Mississippi Department of Education Training

Post submitted by Harry Hawkins, Field Organizer HRC Mississippi

Last month, HRC Mississippi joined a “Respect” training with the Mississippi Department of Education as part of the American Psychological Association’s Safe and Supportive Schools program. The training aims to promote healthy choices and prevent health risks for LGBTQ youth, no matter who they are or whom they love.

Educators from across the state attended the training, learning best practices for serving their LGBTQ students and sharing resources to improve their cultural competency. Many of these educators came from very rural and conservative areas of the state and it was encouraging to meet and interact with educators who are interested in establishing safe spaces for their LGBTQ students.

The training gave us a chance to discuss the LGBTQ advocacy work that HRC Mississippi does throughout the state. It was also a chance for us to educate attendees on our Welcoming Schools program. HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students.

HRC Mississippi was grateful to be a part of this wonderful training and looks forward to working with more educators to help support LGBTQ youth in the future.

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10 Transgender and Gender Fluid Youth Who Are Working to Change the World

Over the past several years, more and more young transgender people are coming out and sharing their stories publicly. These brave young people are becoming advocates for change across the country. Young transgender people from all walks of life are making a lasting impact towards achieving full transgender equality in our nation — even if some of these remarkable trail blazers aren’t old enough to legally drive or vote.

Transgender young people face significant discrimination and bullying. Last year, North Carolina adopted the infamous HB2, legislation that required discrimination against transgender people, including in public schools. Several states, including Texas, are currently considering similar bills. Seventy-five percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school, and, tragically, more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime.

Despite these odds, transgender young people are making history for all the right reasons using their own unique stories and backgrounds, they all are working the same goal: ensuring that transgender people everywhere are treated with the same rights and protections as everyone else. 

1. Gavin Grimm, Virginia

Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy and only a senior in high school, has become a leader in the transgender movement. Grimm filed suit against the school board alleging the district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will have far-reaching consequences for tens of thousands of transgender students across the nation. Yesterday, dozens of major companies have join the cause in supporting Grimm’s case in a historic Amicus Brief announced this week.

.@GavinGrimmVA speaks truth to power at White House rally to #ProtectTransKids. @HRC‘s proud to #StandWithGavin! https://t.co/nhqjv83M07

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) February 23, 2017

2. Jazz Jennings, Florida

One of HRC’s Youth Ambassadors, Jazz Jennings is an openly transgender girl whose activism spans most of her life. At 16, she is a TV personality, spokesmodel and LGBTQ right activist. Her impressive resume includes starring in TLC’s GLAAD Award winning docu-series, I Am Jazz; co-author of I am Jazz,released her self-titled memoir, Being Jazz in 2016 and co-founded the TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation, which assists transgender youth. She has also been named one of TIME’s 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 and 2015.

you can’t bring us down. #LoveTrumpsHate pic.twitter.com/5ecMz8A4Xz

— Jazz Jennings (@JazzJennings__) February 26, 2017

3. Marci Owens, Washington

Nearly seven years ago, when former President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law — making healthcare accessible and affordable for millions of Americans, especially for the transgender community — standing next to him was 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, a “miniature health care activist.” Years later, Owens came out as transgender in her late teens. Now that Owens has publicly come out as transgender, she hopes to share her passion and journey with others.   

 

“I’m not the obamacare kid anymore ” new article on cnn #transgirl #transgender ��: Annabel Clark for CNN

A post shared by Celise-Marcí Owens (@celisemarcii) on Mar 18, 2016 at 10:44am PDT

4. Lucas Segal, Arkansas

For Lucas Segal, growing up in a conservative town in Arkansas was a painful experience, especially knowing that he was transgender. In fact, aside from the taunts and bullying he endured, Segal described those “painful and stressful” moments didn’t compare to the anguish he felt when he needed to use his high school restroom. However, he turned his pain into power and in recognition for his advocacy work, Segal won a trip to San Diego through the Students Taking Action with Recognition competition. Segal is also among HRC Foundation’s Youth Ambassadors.

5. Rebekah Bruesehoff, New Jersey

Rebekah might be the youngest transgender activist on our list, but her activism for equal rights is already making a big splash on social media. A photo of Rebekah holding up a sign quickly went viral earlier this week. Her mom, Jamie Bruesehoff, told The Huffington Post that her daughter came out publicly when she was 8 years old and has since began using her voice and her story to help others understand the hardships the transgender community faces.

10-year-old busts myth about trans people with powerful sign https://t.co/rmIq9cl2W7 pic.twitter.com/cl9B6uLNDs

— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) March 1, 2017

6. Brendan Jordan, Nevada

Social media star and one of HRC’s Youth ambassadors, 16-year-old Brendan Jordan’s stardom began with a viral video of him dancing behind a local reporter during a live news report. Jordan’s coming out video went viral in 2014, and has inspired LGBTQ youth around the world. He has advocated against drug use through SoCrush, appeared in advertisements for American Apparel and participated in Miley Cyrus’s #InstaPride campaign. At HRC’s third annual Time to THRIVE Conference for LGBTQ youth in February 2016, Brendan came out as identifying as both male and female, and using both pronouns “he” and “she.” “I’m still figuring it out. I’m starting to identify as one or as part of the trans community,” Jordan said to the crowd. While Jordan admitted that being a teenager and dealing with bullying can be tough, his shared this advice to young people, “Be true to yourself and don’t care about anything anyone else says about you.”

7. Trinity Neal, Delaware

Trinity Neal was only two-years-old when she started expressing her true self. Now 12, she tells Essence that she wants to help other transgender children in coming out. “They don’t need to hide all the time. I had to tell my parents, and they could do the same thing… I want to change the world by making it much more friendly for trans people.” Trinity isn’t the only one in her family to be a fierce advocate for the transgender community, her mother, DeShanna is a member of HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council. The Council is some of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people.

8. Avery Jackson, Missouri

Avery Jackson made history in 2016, becoming the first transgender girl to appear on the cover of National Geographic and sparking a national conversation about gender identity. “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy,” Avery said in a quote on the cover. Avery’s mother, Debi Jackson, was the subject of one of HRC’s Moms for Transgender Equality videos and is a member of HRC’s groundbreaking Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

Avery, a trans girl, is on @NatGeo‘s cover. Honored to have her parents on @HRC‘s Parents for Trans Equality Council https://t.co/CSg8ExkOC0 pic.twitter.com/YjKuPJAO6g

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) December 18, 2016

9. Grace Dolan-Sandrino, Washington, D.C.

At 16, Grace Dolan-Sandrino’s personal story of overcoming adversity during her transition in high school propelled her to advocate on behalf of other transgender students going through the same hardships. After getting involved in HRC’s Welcoming Schools program, which helps make schools more inclusive for LGBTQ students, she got a call from the White House. In 2015, she attended a meeting of transgender and other nonconforming students that would help inform the office’s policy under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. “It was very empowering and amazing to be involved,” she told Rolling Stone. “It made me feel like I was not only helping other kids but also that my opinion, my life, and my education mattered.”

Most recently, Dolan-Sandrino spoke out against President Trump’s actions to dismantle protections for transgender students during HRC’s Facebook live event last month.

10. Nicole Maines, Maine

Nicole Maines made history in early 2014 when a judge ruled that she had the right to use the restroom of the gender she identified with, marking a major victory for transgender rights and the first time a state court ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom. Since then, their family’s story has been brought to life on a national scale in the bestselling book Becoming Nicole – The Transformation of An American Family, written by Pulitzer Prize author Amy Ellis Nutt. Maines’ father, Wayne Maines, was the subject of one of HRC’s Dads for Transgender Equality videos and is a member of HRC’s groundbreaking Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

In September, HRC partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians to release Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children, a guide explaining what experts know about supporting our youngest transgender and gender-expansive kids, especially those in elementary school.

In 2015, HRC partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Spectrum, the ACLU and the National Education Association on Schools in Transition, a groundbreaking guide for K-12 administrators, teachers and parents. The guide describes the legal landscape for transgender students, discusses crucial policies that affect students’ daily experiences, and offers advice for working with families who aren’t yet supportive of their child’s identity.

To learn more about how you can support transgender and gender-expansive youth, visit www.hrc.org/trans-youth.

For more information about HRC’s efforts toward transgender equality, go to hrc.org/transgender.

Also check out HRC’s Transgender Visibility Guide here.

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U.S. Supreme Court Remands and Vacates Gavin Grimm Case

Today, HRC responded to the news that the Supreme Court of the United States will not hear the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board this term. Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, filed suit against the school board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom.

“The Supreme Court of the United States sent this case back to the Fourth Circuit as a direct result of the Trump Administration rescinding school guidance protecting transgender students. Now, thousands of transgender students across the country will have to wait even longer for a final decision from our nation’s highest court affirming their basic rights,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “To be clear, transgender students are covered by Title IX and are entitled to the same rights and protections as every other student. But while this plays out in our courts, we are deeply concerned about the consequences this could have for transgender students, who may not be aware of their rights or be subject to increased discrimination by others who feel emboldened by the Trump Administration’s recent actions. Now more than ever it is crucial for all of us to affirm to transgender students that they are equal, they are valued, and there are millions of people across our country who will have their backs, no matter what.”

Today, the Supreme Court sent the Grimm case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals following the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind protective school guidance for transgender students. Because the Fourth Circuit’s original ruling was heavily based on the Obama Administration’s guidance,  the Supreme Court has asked the lower court to revisit the case and rule on the underlying statutory question regarding the scope of Title IX.  Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students including with respect to restroom access regardless of the guidance.

In June, a federal court ordered the Gloucester County School Board to allow Grimm full access to the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity, consistent with a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, the Supreme Court of the United States halted the lower court’s order, allowing the school board’s discriminatory policy to remain in place while the court awaited an application by the school board to have its full appeal heard.

48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General and a day after being sworn in, the Department of Justice moved to eliminate the Obama Administration’s challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing the nationwide hold to continue. Despite this action, transgender students facing discrimination can still file suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Allowing transgender people to access facilities consistent with their gender identity — something compelled for years by laws in 18 states as well as embraced by hundreds of cities and school districts around the country — has not resulted in problems. On the other hand, forcing transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities contrary to their identity can impose real harm on transgender students, further compounding the discrimination and marginalization they already face.

A recent study correlated the high suicide rates of transgender students with discriminatory bathroom restrictions, and, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, more than 50 percent of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

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