The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) has released its best practice recommendations concerning equal and fair treatment, rights and safety of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in K-12 schools. “Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools,” is being made available free to all school districts in the state on MTPC’s website (masstpc.org/issues/education). This complements the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education “Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”
These best practices provide additional tools for school administrators, teachers and superintendents in implementing the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity for gender identity non-discrimination in K-12 public schools. These recommendations were developed by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.
MTPC’s Executive Director Gunner Scott said, “The evidence is overwhelming that transgender and gender non-conforming youth need active school support and protection for their physical and mental health and educational well-being. I applaud the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for the passage and enactment of the 2011 Act Relative to Gender Identity law, which requires non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the areas of education, employment, housing and credit/lending.”
Transgender and gender non-conforming youth experience overwhelming amounts of harassment and discrimination in schools across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. The 2007 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 87% of transgender students had been verbally harassed in the previous year because of their gender expression, and more than a quarter had been physically assaulted. More than half of those who were victimized did not report the events to school authorities.
“We look forward to collaborating with school administrators, superintendents and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in utilizing these best practice recommendations in all Massachusetts school districts,” said Julian Cyr, chair of the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. “The Commission is committed to continuing to collaborate with educators, policy makers and community partners such as MTPC to provide technical assistance and professional development to ensure that teachers and schools have the tools they need to fully support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.”
Scott said, “These recommendations were prepared by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best educational practice models used in other school systems with existing gender identity non-discrimination laws, policies and regulations in other states, in addition to policy recommendations developed by LGBT think tanks and LGBT education policy specialists.”
These recommendations include examples of: how to address transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns in records and in the classroom; how to provide updated copies of high school diplomas when students’ names are changed; and ways to keep students’ transgender status confidential, unless necessary to ensure the students’ safety.
In addition to the 2011 law, the Massachusetts Superior and Appeals Courts ruled in October 2000 and February 2001, respectively, that Massachusetts public schools may not prohibit transgender students from expressing their gender identities and are afforded the same protections and rights under the law as other students.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local, and federal government; engages in activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.