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.