Support 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.
This issue is near to my heart as an educator and a mother. I am proud to be the GSA faculty sponsor at the high school where I teach. My students formed the Genders and Sexualities Alliance several years ago because a safe and welcoming space was sorely needed for them. Our numbers have grown until we're the largest club in school, and that speaks to the necessity of our purpose. I see, every day, the anguish and difficulties that LGBTQ+ students face. I have taught several transgender and nonbinary students, and it is horrifying to me that we even have to discuss protecting them. Why isn't that immediately obvious? Our goal should be to always protect and honor every student we teach.
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. Their rate of suicide is far higher than their cisgender peers, and that's simply unacceptable. Supporting trans students is suicide prevention.
No one deserves to be bullied, harassed, or discriminated against in their school, which is a place where they are supposed to be able to learn and be a part of a community that accepts them for who they are. Schools teach students how to succeed but they also teach students how to treat each other. 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.
VA Educator and Parent