Title

Creating a safe school environment for trans and gender nonconforming students

First Presenter's Institution

ACLU LGBT & HIV Project

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Verelst

Strand #1

Safety & Violence Prevention

Strand #2

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

This session will discuss best practices for creating a safe and inclusive environment and trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth in schools. This session will both relate to school policies and practices that help can prevent certain kinds of violence and bullying against TGNC students, as well as cover the critical medical need for TGNC students to be treated consistently with their gender identity in all aspects of their life, including while at school.

Brief Program Description

Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth are some of the most vulnerable students to harassment and bullying. The session will approach these topics from a legal perspective, and include a discussion of the federal laws in place protecting TGNC students' rights. We will discuss policies and practices for teachers and administrators looking to create a safer learning environment for TGNC students, as well as legal obligations to protect students from discrimination.

Summary

Transgender and gender nonconforming youth are some of the most vulnerable students to harassment and bullying, both by peers and administrators. This session will cover some common forms of harassment and discrimination that we see reported by TGNC youth in the school setting, and will discuss legal rights and best policies and practices for prevention. In particular, we will look at the ways in which TGNC youth are at risk for disparate school discipline, including enforcement of gendered dress codes, and suppression of LGBTQ related speech and expression. We will discuss legal obligations with respect to TGNC students’ access sex-segregated facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms, including the negative health consequences students suffer when they are not treated the same as other students of their gender. We will also cover the ways in which students are at risk of being outed at school, which can pose a threat to their safety either at home or at school, especially in the context of names and gender markers on school records and publications. We will cover federal laws in place that protects students' rights and schools' obligations, including the First and Fourteenth amendments, Title IX, HIPPA, FERPA, and IDEA/ADA. We will cover not only the minimum legal requirements of schools, but also best policies and practices schools can implement to prevent harassment and discrimination against TGNC students. This session is aimed at K-12 teachers and administrators to learn about how they can prevent negative outcomes for TGNC students and better understand their obligations under the law. It will also be relevant to students and families looking to learn more about their legal rights in schools and legal organizations they can turn to for help.

Evidence

The presenter is a legal expert in the field of sex discrimination in education, particularly surrounding rights for transgender and gender nonconforming students. The proposed solutions are supported by major medical, legal, and educational organizations around the country. There is overwhelming consensus among education and child health experts that transgender students should be treated according to their gender identity. These include statements and reports from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American School Counselor Association, the National PTA, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with 17 other major medical organizations, produced a brief in recent years explaining that accessing restrooms consistent with gender identity is essential to the physical and mental health of young people. The medical community agrees that access to sex-separated facilities consistent with gender identity is critical to the social and emotional development of transgender youth. Transgender and gender nonconforming youth face higher risks of anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Research from the CDC and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention show that these risks are made worse when young students face rejection in school, including when they are misgendered by peers or teachers or denied access to programs or facilities because they are trans. Many federal courts around the country have noted such consensus and cited expert testimony about the negative health consequences TGNC students face from school rejection in their decisions affirming students' legal rights under Title IX and the Constitution.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Shayna Medley-Warsoff is an attorney with the ACLU's national LGBT & HIV Project. She is on a two-year fellowship program, in which she focuses specifically on enforcing educational rights for trans and gender nonconforming youth. She has served as counsel on several ACLU cases representing transgender students facing discrimination, and has published law review articles on sex discrimination in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender. Shayna is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brandeis University.

Keyword Descriptors

LGBT; transgender; law; legal; Title IX; harassment; discrimination;

Presentation Year

2019

Start Date

3-6-2019 9:45 AM

End Date

3-6-2019 12:30 PM

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Mar 6th, 9:45 AM Mar 6th, 12:30 PM

Creating a safe school environment for trans and gender nonconforming students

Verelst

Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth are some of the most vulnerable students to harassment and bullying. The session will approach these topics from a legal perspective, and include a discussion of the federal laws in place protecting TGNC students' rights. We will discuss policies and practices for teachers and administrators looking to create a safer learning environment for TGNC students, as well as legal obligations to protect students from discrimination.