My name is Michael and I am an openly gay man currently residing of Hyattsville, Maryland, however for the last 4 years I had lived in Arlington and prior to that in Fairfax County. I am writing today to express my strong opposition to the Governors proposed changes that would directly impact the lives of trans students in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Transgender students deserve to feel safe and accepted just like every other person. and trans youth are already at a higher risk of depression, suicide, and violence. This decision is leading to make the lives harder of kids and teens already struggling with their gender identity and sexual orientation. Some statistics for you to consider - 40% of all homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBTQ+ (Morton, M.H., Dworsky, A., Matjasko, J.L., Curry, S.R., Schlueter, D., Chávez, R. & Farrell, A.F. (in press). Prevalence and correlates of youth homelessness in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health.), three-quarters of students who identify as transgender or non-binary have felt unsafe at school because of the way they expressed their gender (75.1%), and of those students who identified as “another gender” or “genderqueer,” two-thirds felt unsafe at school (‘another gender” 61.2% and “genderqueer” 61.6% ). Finally, trans people are over 4 times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime.
This guidance also runs the very real risk of forcing teachers to out students against their will, which could lead to the potential of violence and abuse against the child. I want to make this very clear, just because it is 2022 and the LGBTQ+ rights movement has made strides over the last decade or so does not mean we are completely safe. Even now kids are thrown out of their homes, beaten and abused just for being who they truly are. People who are LGBTQ+ deserve the right to come out to people when they are ready and only when they are ready, as I did at the age of 21.
Children deserve to feel safe at school and at home, and I hope the administration will change its stance and stop this dangerous guidance from going into effect.