Support of the Model Policies on the Treatment of Transgender Students
I am writing in support of the Model Policies on the Treatment of Transgender Students because I believe all students should have equal access to education where they can thrive and reach their full potential.
I am a nonbinary college student born, raised, and currently living in Virginia. I survived Virginia schools. Too many of my fellow nonbinary and transgender peers did not.
When I was 16, I started a support group for LGBTQ+ youth in my community. We met monthly at the public library for over a year (pre-Coid-19). It was not much, nothing fancy, and still it was magical for too many of the members. I say the magic they felt is unfortunate only because basic support shouldn’t be so rare. I wish it weren’t the only safe place they had in their life. Many of their stories shocked me, like the 7th grader who had to go the bathroom at the opposite end of their school because there was a teacher (not theirs) who would yell at them if they saw them stepping into the one they felt most comfortable in. Policies such as the one proposed are necessary to stop such harassment was taking place and hopefully will lead to such bullies being held accountable for their actions.
Students ought to be protected from harassment in school. Students are being harassed for their gender, what they wear, and which bathroom they use by both other students and teachers. This is not acceptable. I should not have been the closest thing they had to an authority figure who treated them with respect. They deserve better.
GLSEN's 2019 National School Climate Survey shows that transgender and nonbinary students feel less safe at school and miss school more often because of feeling unsafe compared to their cisgender peers. Transgender and nonbinary students also report higher rates of victimization and discrimination than their peers, especially regarding respect for their names and pronouns and access to bathrooms and locker rooms. Transgender and nonbinary students should feel safe and included in their learning communities.
This proposed rule will make Virginia schools a better place to learn for transgender and nonbinary students, which creates a better learning environment for all. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring safe and welcoming schools for all Virginia students. These policies make a difference.
Whit Flores (they/them)