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New Report Details Extensive Harms of Denying Transgender Students Access to School Facilities

Report delivered to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos showing impact of anti-transgender policies on 150,000 transgender youth

Denver, CO, April 11, 2017 — As politicians in states like Texas and North Carolina fight to restrict transgender students’ access to bathrooms, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and GLSEN, in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Education Association (NEA) have released a new report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities, showing how profoundly harmful and unnecessary policies that exclude transgender students from school facilities that match their gender can be on these children.

MAP, GLSEN, NCTE and the NEA sent the report and an open letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, highlighting the hundreds of local school districts across the country, as well as 13 states and the District of Columbia, that have proven they can successfully implement laws and policies protecting transgender students from discrimination while still meeting the needs of all students.

“Having inclusive school policies does nothing to diminish schools’ legal obligation to ensure safe education facilities and to act if a student behaves inappropriately or tries to invade someone’s privacy. If any student attempts to abuse an inclusive policy, schools can and will take action. And schools can also offer privacy options for any student who simply feels uncomfortable,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP. “On the surface, the argument is about bathrooms, but at a deeper level, it is about whether or not transgender students will be included in our public education system. Put simply, if transgender students cannot safely access a bathroom, they cannot safely attend school.”

Learning from local success, in 2014, the Obama administration issued official guidance clarifying that transgender students are protected from discrimination based on Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination. However, the Trump administration recently rescinded that guidance, signaling that transgender students cannot count on their federal government for support or protection. The administration’s action also caused the U.S. Supreme Court to withdraw its decision to hear arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, in which the Court would have considered whether Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination protects transgender students.

And, with the new administration rescinding its previous guidance, more states are considering discriminatory laws. Seventeen states have introduced legislation that seeks to limit school districts’ ability to provide access to school restrooms and locker rooms for transgender students. Although the text of the bills varies from state to state, these bills are generally designed to ensure transgender students are relegated to separate facilities, or facilities that align with the sex on their birth certificate. Bills like these tie the hands of local school administrators and make school environments even more difficult and dangerous for already-vulnerable transgender students.

GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey provides a chilling snapshot of the experiences of transgender students in school. As reviewed in this report, three quarters (75%) of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression; half reported being unable to use the name or pronoun that matched their identity; and 70% reported avoiding bathrooms, which can lead to significant health problems.

“As adults argue about whether to allow transgender students to use facilities that match the gender they live every day, it is transgender students who pay a heavy personal price,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “We have a responsibility to ensure all students have a fair chance to succeed in school and to be protected from discrimination and bullying. And school administrators around the country have proven they can meet the needs of all students when politicians don’t stand in their way.”

Click here to read the report:

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MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.

GLSEN champions safe and affirming 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 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

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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