Education, LGBTQ Youth, Transgender

Trans Students Want School Systems To Respect Their Identity

Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer (LGBTQ) and allied students of all backgrounds. The ceremony acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university as students who survived the college experience thanks to their activities and education at the University of Illinois.

Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer (LGBTQ) and allied students of all backgrounds. The ceremony acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university as students who survived the college experience thanks to their activities and education at the University of Illinois. Photo: University of Illinois | FlickrCC.

Title IX, the federal law, meant to protect students against gender discrimination on campus, adopted protections for transgender students only two years ago, but it frequently gets held up as proof that LGBT students face no challenges or safety issues at school.

However, that assumption is incorrect. Local governments, school boards, and school administrators need to list to the students involved. These you adults have some critical things to say about the challenges and discrimination they face every day. Here are a few of their messages:

Discrimination can come in seemingly small forms. Use the right pronouns. Even if you struggle with remembering, try your hardest, and when you slip up, own it. You don’t need to tell the student you just misgendered that their gender is confusing or grammatically incorrect (We’re looking at you, English teachers, who claim to have trouble with ‘they’ pronouns.) Apologize, correct yourself and move on. Same with changed names. They are the only experts on their identity. The only adult option is to respect that.

While it may seem like pandering, LGBT students do need resources and staff well versed in their issues. A gay student may be coming from an intolerant family and finding the freedom to learn about himself for the first time. A trans student has medical needs, and most students’ only medical access is via their school. Imagine how it feels to any student in a minority group to look at the school staff and see not one single person like them?

The housing of LGBT students is not the fraught matter that opponents like to claim. If housing is segregated by sex, trans women belong with the rest of the women. Trans men go with the men. If housing is co-ed, students should simply be with students with whom they identify

While it’s not the job of the LGBT student body to educate those in authority over them, when in doubt, ask. Show the same willingness to learn you would expect of any student.

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