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GLSEN Responds to Leaked ED Memo

CONTACT: Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123,


(New York, NY) - June 16, 2017 - The following statements can be attributed to GLSEN’s Executive Director, Eliza Byard, and to Director of Public Policy, Nathan Smith: 

Said Byard: “GLSEN is disturbed by the lack of clarity in the leaked Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) memo that confuses serious issues related to the handling of cases by the Office of Civil Rights and will only make the OCR’s work more difficult. This will have a dramatic impact on cases of discrimination against transgender students. The data on the dangers to trans students is clear. GLSEN calls on OCR to specify whether they will defend trans students' access to safe and appropriate school facilities – regardless of where the student lives or what local protections may or may not exist. Forcing trans students to use restrooms that do not align with their gender identity puts those students at risk of harassment and violence.” 

Said Smith: “Just two weeks ago, Secretary DeVos said that ‘discrimination in any form is wrong’ when pressured by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to confirm whether or not OCR would protect LGBTQ students by not providing public funds to K-12 schools that discriminate. Today’s memo confuses the issue and does not explicitly address the trend in recent case law in favor of transgender students, most recently in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. We are concerned that this will result in the dismissal of complaints by transgender students without full investigation. Research has shown that 60% of transgender students have reported being required by their school to use a bathroom or locker room that does not match their gender identity.”
Concluded Smith: “GLSEN asks the Department of Education and OCR officials to confirm whether or not the OCR will investigate reports of transgender students being denied equal access to school restrooms and other school facilities regardless of where the student lives. We have also continually made clear, in no uncertain terms, that we will not stand by and watch the OCR hindered in their duty to protect students of color, students with disabilities, or LGBTQ students from the well-documented and harmful effects of harassment and discrimination in the classroom.”

About GLSEN 

GLSEN is the leading education organizing creating safe and inclusive schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN’s expertise to their local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit