Monthly Archives: November 2011

LGBTQ Homeless Youth

Up to 50% of LGBTQ youth are rejected by their families.

Up to 40% of f ALL homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

In the Life has been doing an expose on homeless LGBTQ youth.

Damn, it is getting cold out there……

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

Yesterday, November 20, 2011 was Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Much to his credit Anderson Cooper spent time last week paying attention to the lives of transgender youth and their families.

I am most frequently consulted on the negative school experiences of children and families dealing with this issue in second and third grade, which fits with research on gender identity and transgender experiences.

So in honor of the Transgender Day of Rememberance…I am going to post the fact today on what school is like for a student who is transgendered.  (As well as for the student who is gender non-conforming who may or may not identify as transgender.)
Here is what GLSEN found out in their 2009 study, Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools:

HATEFUL WORDS ARE EVERYWHERE

  • 90% of transgender students heard derogatory remarks, such as “dyke” or “faggot,” sometimes, often, or frequently in school.
  • 90% of transgender students heard negative remarks about someone’s gender expression sometimes, often, or frequently in school. Remarks about students not acting “masculine” enough were more common than remarks about students not acting “feminine” enough (82% vs. 77% hearing remarks sometimes, often, or frequently).
  • A third of transgender students heard school staff make homophobic (32%) remarks, sexist (39%) remarks, and negative comments about someone’s gender expression (39%) sometimes, often, or frequently in the past year.

GENDER CONFORMING VIOLENCE IS PERVASIVE

  • Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and their gender expression (87%).
  • Over half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and their gender expression (53%).
  • Many transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and their gender expression (26%).
  • Although LGBT students overall reported high levels of harassment and assault in school, transgender students
    experienced even higher levels than non-transgender students.

EDUCATORS ARE SILENT

  • Less than half (44%) of transgender students reported that they had a student club that address LGBT student issues, i.e., a Gay Straight-Alliance (GSA), in their school. Although transgender students were not more likely to report having a GSA in their school, they did report attending GSA meetings more frequently than non-transgender LGB students.
  • Less than half (46%) of transgender students reported that they could find information about LGBT people, history, or events in their school library and only a third (31%) were able to access this information using the school Internet.
  • Less than a fifth of transgender students (16%) reported that LGBT-related topics were included in their textbooks or other assigned readings, and only a tenth (11%) were exposed to an inclusive curriculum that included positive representations of LGBT people, history, or events in their classes.
  • Only half (54%) of transgender students reported that their school had an anti-harassment policy, and only 24% said that the school policy included specific protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

AND THE OUTCOMES ARE ALARMING

  • Almost half of all transgender students reported skipping a class at least once in the past month (47%) and missing at least one day of school in the past month (46%) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable
  • Transgender students experiencing high levels of harassment were more likely than other transgender students to miss school for safety reasons (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 64% vs. 25%; gender expression: 56% vs. 32%; gender: 68% vs.38%).
  • Transgender students were more likely to miss school due to safety concerns than non-transgender students (46% of transgender students compared to 34% of female students, 27% of male students, and 40% of students with other gender identities).
  • Transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment had significantly lower grade point averages than those who experienced lower levels of harassment (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 2.2. vs. 3.0; gender expression: 2.3 vs. 2.8; gender: 2.2 vs. 2.7).
  • Transgender students experiencing high levels of harassment were more likely to report that they were not planning on going to college than those experiencing lower levels of harassment (verbal harassment based on sexual orientation: 42% vs. 30%; gender expression: 40% vs. 30%; gender: 49% vs. 32%).
  • Transgender students had lower educational aspirations than male students and reported lower GPAs than male students and
    marginally lower GPAs than female students.

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In the news: “School Safety” means GO AWAY

Dionne Malikowski talks to 7NEWS.

Transgender Student Suspended over Bathroom Use

“The 16-year-old high school junior told 7NEWS she was suspended about a month ago for violating the school policy by using a girls’ restroom instead of a staff restroom.”

Recap:

Dionne Malikowski, a 16-year-old female who is transgendered, was recently banned from using the girls bathrooms in Fort Collins High School. 

According to school district officials Dionne was required to ONLY use staff bathrooms because the school/district felt they could not create an environment where it was safe for her Dionne to pee in student facilities.  However, if you read between the lines here, Dionne was actually also being banned from using student bathrooms. 

PSD Board of Education President Nancy Tellez recently explained that Dionne was offered use of staff bathrooms in order to give her what every student has, something that approximates an equal opportunity:

“Its intent is to provide equal opportunity to all students. It would seem to me that every student should have the opportunity to use the bathroom.”  

But guess what?   One day when Dionne opted to use a student bathroom instead of a staff bathroom she was the one suspended from school…. for her own good.   Her equal opportunity was only ment to be available if she didn’t try to access things a normal student takes for granted, like a public bathroom.

Tellez went on to justify suspending Dionne for using the student bathroom:

Tellez said that she believes the requirement to use the staff bathrooms does provide an equal opportunity for transgender students, as seven staff bathrooms are spread throughout the school.
“I remember three different times when I was over there, and I found a staff bathroom to use in several different areas,” she said.

Okay so this school/district is looking out for Dionne’s safety right, they are advocates for her student/human rights.  They are somewhat aware of the potential violence she faces at school although their ongoing defense would suggest that they think that violence is acceptable, inevitable, and should be accommodated.

Here is the best quote illustrating that point:

“It’s a step backward to say it’s not safe, so they won’t integrate,” Raccuglia (a local advocate) said. “If a student were getting beat up in the bathroom for having red hair, they wouldn’t ban red-haired kids from using a specific bathroom.”

But really… the best the district can offer to create a safe educational environment for Dionne is to limit her rights to student facilities and suspend her if she refuses to be invisible?! 

On Friday Dionne announced she plans to transfer schools. 

So here are just a couple important equity issues this article brings up for me:

1. Gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers in the United States are far more likely to be harshly punished by schools and courts than their straight peers, even though they are less likely to engage in serious misdeeds, according to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.(NYT link)   Suspending Dionne because you feel that your school is not a safe place for her to go potty is par for the course in this arena.

2.  LGBTQ students are at a much higher risk of skipping school, transferring due to hostilities, and ultimately dropping out of school altogether.  Dionne has now dropped out of Fort Collins High School, she says she is transferring… lets hope that happens.
• LGBT youth are 4.5 times more likely than non-gay peers to skip school because they feel unsafe
• 31% of gay students had missed at least an entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe based on their sexual orientation
• Nearly one-third of LGBT students drop out of high school to escape the violence, harassment, and isolation they face there — a dropout rate nearly three times the national average  (link)

3.  There are very real safety concerns for transgender students while at school.  Ordering Dionne to hide or be sent away does nothing to address the pervasive gender and sexuality violence going on in schools.
• 74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school, and 90% of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression. (GLSEN. (2001). The 2001 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)
• 55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked. (GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)  (link)

When minority student safety = suspension and queer youth drop out of your program in order to get an education… 

I am pretty sure  your, intent to provide equal opportunity to all students, is a big fat fail.

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