Transgender Students Face a lot of Discrimination, and the Trump Administration isn’t Helping

A new report authored by the Movement Advancement Project and GLSEN – in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Education Association – outlines the discrimination and bullying that transgender students in the United States face and highlights the need for explicit federal protections and safe, inclusive learning environments.

GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey shows just how prevalent this discrimination is. According to that report:

  • 75 percent of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
  • 60 percent of transgender students were forced to use a bathroom or locker room that did not match the gender they live every day.
  • 50 percent of transgender students were unable to use the name or pronoun that matched their gender.
  • 70 percent of transgender students said they’d avoided bathrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

This week’s new report, “Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities,” notes that while many schools do provide safe and supportive learning environments for transgender students, only 13 states and Washington, D.C. have laws that explicitly ban discrimination in schools based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The report comes in the wake of the Department of Justice’s and the Department of Education’s joint rescission of guidance that clarified transgender student protections under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities to ensure equal educational opportunity. Because the departments repealed that guidance, the U.S. Supreme Court sent Gavin Grimm’s case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

But as Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the ACLU, noted when the Supreme Court sent the case back, “neither today’s action by the Supreme Court nor the Trump ED/DOJ rescission of the guidance change the law. Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in educational institutions, and the Constitution of the United States continue to protect trans students from discrimination.”

As this week’s report notes, most courts that have considered whether Title IX protects trans students have ruled in favor of trans students, but Gavin’s case could have applied that interpretation nationwide. Legislation like the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), modeled after Title IX, would also establish a comprehensive federal prohibition on discrimination in schools based on actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill was first introduced in 2011, but Congress hasn’t passed it.

Unfortunately, repeal of the guidance immediately emboldened some schools and students to discriminate against transgender students. Derby High School in Kansas, for example, rushed to reverse its policy that allowed transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. One transgender high school student in Maryland responded to the rescission by saying, “It makes me feel unimportant. It makes me feel angry. It makes me feel invisible.”

Meanwhile, according to a Human Rights Campaign blog post last week, more than 130 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced so far this year in 30 states. And it’s only April.

Read the full report from Movement Advancement Project and GLSEN here.