Report finds transgender students suffer harassment in school

Jun 25, 2015

The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report Wednesday, suggesting the treatment of transgender youth in public schools needs to be reformed.

The report showed that nationally, almost 75 percent of trans students reported being verbally harassed and one in three say they have been physically assaulted.

Director Donna Lieberman says that despite the national attention transgender people have received recently – such as Caitlyn Jenner appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair – there are still improvements to be made.

Locke, a transgender student from upstate New York, described the harassment he endures in school to the NYCLU.
Credit nyclu.org

“That progress also exposes how far we still have to go, particularly when it comes to protecting the basic rights and liberties of the most vulnerable  members of our society — our children,” Lieberman said.

The report revealed that more than half of transgender students avoid school due to harassment and one in six leave school altogether.

A transgender student named Locke shared his story with the NYCLU, saying he has experienced plenty of discrimination over the years.

“One teacher, when I was a sophomore, he would sometimes call me ‘she,’” Locke said. “He said my birth name in front of the entire classroom after I had been in his class for several months. My grade had been low, so he made a point to say ‘(Birth name), you have a ____ grade in this class right now.’”

Locke says people often confuse acceptance with respect.

“I think it’s important that even if someone doesn’t accept transgender people, that they still at least respect them. Calling me ‘Locke’ and ‘he’ doesn’t mean that you are in support of trans people. It just means that you are being respectful of me, just like I would be respectful of a person too.”

With the report, the NYCLU included a model policy for school districts to make sure students are respected.

The policy recommends that all school staff are trained for creating supportive environments for students with a range of gender identities. It also suggests all schools have confidential ways to accept complaints or reports of bullying or harassment. 

Currently, schools report discrimination once every school year. The NYCLU says data collection and reporting should occur more frequently in order to track and address ongoing violations more efficiently.