STRONGLY SUPPORT THIS VITAL POLICY!
As a faculty member in the School of Education at William & Mary, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Counselor Educator, and the parent of two transgender teenagers, I believe this policy is essential to the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being of transgender youth. A 2020 survey of transgender youth indicated the following:
- Over 60% reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months
- More 50% seriously considered suicide in the past twelve months
- 3 in 4 reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks
- 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity
- 46% of LGBTQ youth report they wanted psychological or emotional counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past 12 months
- 29% of LGBTQ youth have experienced homelessness, been kicked out, or run away
- 61% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being prevented or discouraged from using a bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity
- Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2020/)
My own child came home from school today extremely distressed at being misgendered by a substitute teacher because he wore makeup. For those who cannot understand the experience of having you personhood denied by others, please try to image how it would feel if you were continually referred to by others as a gender other than the one with which you identify. Moreso, imagine how it would feel if the person you loved most in the world (your child) lived in a world where every day they were told they were sick, damaged, wrong, unnatural, mentally ill, and the many, many other messages that they get from a cisnormative culture daily.
- Youth suicide can be prevented.
- Youth homelessness can be prevented.
- Youth self-harm can be prevented.
- Youth anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns can be prevented.
- Discrimination and harassment of LGBT youth can be prevented.
This policy can make a difference in preventing harm to our children. We can make a difference in protecting our youth and ensuring their right to a safe and supportive educational environment.
Please put this policy in place so that all children are guaranteed the safety to learn and grow in a supportive and safe environment; so that they know that their lives matter!
Dr. Noelle St. Germain-Sehr