Unions, national education and civil rights orgs standing strong with transgender students

In addition to the outpouring of support from celebrities, national education and civil rights organizations have also come out strongly in support of transgender students in response to the Trump administration's decision to withdraw guidance outlining protections for trans students under Title IX.

In a brief Thursday, unions representing millions of teachers, including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Service Employees International Union, and the School Social Work Association of America, showed even more solidarity and support for 17-year-old Gavin Grimm--who is suing his school district for discrimination under Title IX because the school singled him out and treated him differently simply for being a transgender boy--and thereby standing with transgender students across the country, declaring:

“Educators are, above all, advocates and protectors of their students. Compelling them to discriminate against and harm their students runs counter to everything about their personal and professional mission.” 

Below are statements released immediately following the announcement that the Trump Administration had decided to rescind guidelines protecting trans students under Title IX.

National Education Association: "Schools have a legal and a moral duty to support all students, including transgender students. In fact, states, school districts, and schools nationwide are supporting and affirming transgender students, and we believe they will continue to do so with or without guidance from the Trump administration." Read the full statement. NEA President Lily Eskelsen García added: 

“Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary. We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period."

National Parent-Teacher Association: "National PTA is extremely disappointed that the Administration has rescinded the guidance. Every child deserves to receive a great education in a setting free from discrimination, harassment and violence. The vast majority of LGBTQ students, however, are bullied, physically assaulted and feel unsafe in school because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or identity. There is a need for explicit protection of LGBTQ youth as it is critical to their overall health and well-being and long-term success." Read the full statement.

The American Federation of Teachers: "Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans. We want to be clear to those kids: It is not OK with your teachers or with us at the AFT, and we will continue fighting to protect you.” Read the full statement

National Association of Secondary School Principals: "In rescinding the guidance, President Trump sends an equally strong and opposite message. It diminishes the value of transgender students, discourages educators’ efforts to support them, and emboldens their harassers. Principals will continue their efforts to support transgender and all other students in the face of new opposition and, sadly, with the knowledge that their president might not share their concern for the needs of each student." Read the full statement.

National Council of Jewish Women: “Rescinding this guidance doesn’t change the law — transgender students are still protected under Title IX — but it does send a clear message to these students that their safety does not matter to this administration. Further, by couching this as a state issue, it also ignores the historic and critical role the federal government plays in protecting students from discrimination. NCJW denounces the rollback of this important guidance, which will make going to school more difficult for many students. We urge President Trump, Education Secretary DeVos, and Attorney General Sessions to reconsider their role in protecting vulnerable children seeking a safe education.” Read the full statement.

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights with the National Center for Transgender Equality, GLSEN, the National Women’s Law Center, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and MALDEF uniformly condemned the administration's decision to withdraw the guidance: "By rescinding the guidance today, the Trump administration has taken the opposite stance. They have sent a deeply troubling message to students that the administration will not stand up for students' civil rights. We condemn the administration’s decision, vow to fight to enforce Title IX, which continues to protect transgender students, and call on individual schools and districts to treat students consistent with their gender identity and consistent with the rescinded guidance that accurately explained the law." Read the full statement

In May 2016, under President Obama, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice issued guidance to all public schools explaining that Title IX, the Federal non-discrimination law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, should be interpreted to mean that transgender students must be treated fairly and equally in school. This week, the same Departments under Trump reversed this guidance, which sends the message that states and local districts may choose to discriminate against trans students.

On March 28, the United States Supreme Court will hear Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a case about a 17-year-old transgender student named Gavin Grimm who is suing his school district for discrimination under Title IX because the school singled him out and treated him differently simply because he is transgender.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, transgender students already face extremely high rates of harassment and bullying in schools.

  • The majority of respondents who were open about being transgender while in school (K-12) experienced some form of mistreatment, including verbal harassment (54%), physical attack (24%), and sexual assault (13%) 
  • 17% experienced such severe mistreatment that they withdrew from school
  • Forty percent of respondents (40%) have attempted suicide, nearly 9x the rate in the U.S. population (4.6%)
  • Seven percent (7%) attempted suicide in the past year nearly 12x the rate in the U.S. population (0.6%)

This strong show of support from national education and civil rights organizations with unions representing educators indicates an understanding that all students should have the opportunity to learn in safe and affirming school environments.