- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is outraged that the East Aurora School Board in Illinois voted unanimously Friday to rescind a policy, which it unanimously approved earlier in the week, that would have make East Aurora schools safer for and more welcoming of transgender students.
The policy, which was initially considered at the request of families who have transgender children in the school district, allowed transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity and required teachers to use the name and pronouns that correspond to transgender students' gender identity.
"Transgender students face extreme victimization in schools, and we know that simple acts like teachers using the names with which transgender youth identify can have an enormous impact on their psychological well-being," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "GLSEN is shocked that, less than a week after moving to make East Aurora schools a more affirming place for transgender students, the school board would reverse itself and send a clear message to transgender students that they are not welcome or supported in East Aurora schools. We urge the school board to put the best interests of its students first and re-adopt this policy."
Nearly 9 out of 10 transgender students were harassed in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%), according GLSEN's 2009 report Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools.
Additionally, 80% of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression in GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey.
The district also does not protect students from bullying on the basis of gender identity, despite a state law that requires school districts to include such protections in their anti-bullying policies.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.