Transgender, nonbinary, and gender expansive children and youth continue to experience overwhelming amounts of harassment and discrimination in schools across the Commonwealth and throughout the nation.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) issued guidance related resources that can help school districts and communities build safe and healthy learning environments for all students, including transgender and gender non-conforming students.
- Download: DESE Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment — Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity
- Download: MTPC’s Best Practices for Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students in Schools K-12.
These recommendations were prepared by the MTPC Policy Committee and reflect the best education practice models used in other school systems or districts in the United States; existing laws, policies, and regulations for school systems in other states; policy recommendations devised by transgender and LGBT think tanks; and education policy specialists.
Experiences of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
The 2017 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 87.4% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks at school about transgender people, 22.3% were physically harassed based on gender, 24.4% based on gender expression and more than half had been verbally harassed.
Negative educational effects of these traumatic experiences included almost half of students skipping school at least once in the previous month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, GPAs dropping to an average of 2.9, and, as also noted in other studies, many becoming at risk for developing depression and suicidal tendencies.
- Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- GLAD’s Know Your Rights Students & Schools
- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- LGBTQ Friendly Colleges & Student Resources
- Gender Spectrum
- GLSEN’s Model School District Policy on Transgender and Nonconforming Students
- GLSEN’s Transgender Inclusion in High School Athletics
Under the law, schools must address allegations of bullying and harassment promptly. Forms of harassment include: asking inappropriate personal questions about the student’s body, including whether the child has had surgical procedures; disclosing to other students, faculty, staff or administrators that the student is transgender; posting offensive pictures or sending offensive electronic or other communications related to the student, including telephone, internet, and text-messaging harassment; and making derogatory remarks, jokes, insults, or epithets.
Bullying is prohibited on school grounds and property immediately adjacent to school grounds; at school-sponsored or school-related activities, functions, or programs; at a school bus stop and on a school bus; and through technology such as the Internet and text messaging.
The evidence is overwhelming that transgender and gender non-conforming youth need active school support and protection for their physical, mental, and educational well-being.
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MTPC, the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth, and other partner organizations look forward to collaborating with school administrators, superintendents, and DESE on implementing DESE’s guidance and MTPC’s best practice recommendations in all Massachusetts school districts. Contact us if you or someone you know have experienced discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.