Inclusive Resources Improve Transgender and Nonbinary Students’ Experience

New Research Highlights Benefits of Supportive School Resources for Transgender and Nonbinary Students


Inclusive Resources Improve Transgender and Nonbinary Students’ School Experience

New Research Highlights Benefits of Supportive School Resources for Transgender and Nonbinary Students Vulnerable to Discrimination

NEW YORK (Nov. 11, 2021)–Today, GLSEN, the leading national organization working to guarantee LGBTQ+ students safe and affirming education, released a new research brief examining the experiences of transgender and nonbinary students in K-12 schools. The new brief outlines transgender and nonbinary students’ access to school resources and illustrates the benefits of these resources for a safer and more inclusive school climate for all students.

The report examines how transgender and nonbinary students are more likely than their cisgender peers to experience unsafe school environments, while also experiencing higher rates of discriminatory school policies and practices targeting their gender identity. For example, 77.3% of transgender students and 69.1% of nonbinary students report facing discrimination, compared to 46.1% of cisgender students.

"Research shows us what students have already been telling us for years– that transgender and nonbinary students face more hostile school climates than their peers," said a.t. Furuya (they/them), Senior Youth Programs Manager for GLSEN. "Fortunately, research also shows us that there are proven solutions. Supportive resources like enumerated nondiscrimination protections, educators, and inclusive curriculum are shown to help improve transgender and nonbinary students' well-being and academic performance."

Key findings from the new report include: 

  • Transgender and nonbinary students have less access to supportive school resources. Although transgender and nonbinary students are more likely than their cisgender LGBQ peers to access GSAs, they have less access to other supportive school resources such as school personnel and inclusive curricular resources. They are also more likely to experience a greater sense of school belonging because of the presence of supportive LGBTQ+ resources.
  • Supportive school resources can make schools safer. Transgender and nonbinary students are less likely to feel unsafe because of their gender identity and gender expression when they have access to supportive resources.
  • Supportive educators promote educational success. Transgender and nonbinary students who could identify supportive educators reported higher GPAs and were more likely to report plans to continue higher education than those without supportive educators.
  • Representation matters. Less than one in five transgender and nonbinary students report being taught anything positive about LGBTQ+ people, history or other topics, but when students did see positive representation of LGBTQ+ topics in curriculum, it offered a strong benefit. These students experienced lower levels of harassment and assault based on gender, heard fewer negative remarks about transgender people, and saw more frequent peer intervention on biased remarks about gender.
  • School policies specifically including transgender and nonbinary students reduce bullying, harassment, and gender-based discrimination. Transgender and nonbinary students are more engaged and less likely to miss school due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable if there are inclusive and supportive school policies on anti-bullying, harassment, or gender-based discrimination.

"All educators and administrators, must be more diligent in ensuring that transgender and nonbinary students have access to GSAs, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, and supportive school personnel," said GLSEN Director of Research Joseph Kosciw, Ph.D. "Our elected leaders, too, can protect the children in their communities by advancing proactive policies that safeguard the rights of transgender and nonbinary people, from local policies to sweeping bills like the Safe Schools Improvement Act or the Equality Act."

To read GLSEN’s new research brief on improving school climate for transgender and nonbinary youth, click here.


GLSEN works to create safe and inclusive schools for all. GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools, via action at the national, state, and local level. Since 1990, GLSEN has improved conditions for LGBTQ+ students across the United States and helped launch an international movement to address LGBTQ+ issues in education.