HRC Blog

Colorado School District Defends Transgender Students’ Rights

Earlier this week, conservative media outlets, including Fox Nation, circulated now debunked reports that bolstered a bigoted campaign against a transgender student at Colorado's Florence High School.

To its credit, school administrators have defended both the school’s policy and the transgender student victimized by extremist attacks.

“This is one parent basically bringing their view point about this situation to the media because they weren’t getting the responses that they hoped they would get from parents, from students at the high school or from the board and myself, “said Florence High School Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti in an interview with The Transadvocate’s Cristan Williams, who uncovered the truth behind conservative media reports.

Superintendent Vendetti continued, "I think it’s just an attempt to elevate the situation to a point where maybe some more attention can be drawn to that in the hope of having a different outcome. There’s not been any incident of harassment or anything that would cause additional concern.”

The Colorado Education Association has also come out in support of Florence High School and the student. The CEA has been working with local affiliates on issues important to LGBT youth and their families, including professional development for educators.

“Our promise to our students is that the Colorado Education Association will lead the way in guaranteeing every student access to the best public education," said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. "As educators we all have a responsibility to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment for every student.  No excuses.”

In August, California passed legislation – the first of its kind – to protect transgender students from this exact form of bullying.

The School Success and Opportunity Act (AB1266) addresses the exclusion of transgender students from classes and activities to ensure all students are provided the same opportunities.  

Under this law, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed on August 12, California public schools must honor the students’ gender identity and expression, including the ability to use the appropriate bathroom.

The discriminatory National Organization for Marriage and other extremists have fought this effort – and any attempt protect transgender rights – using scare tactics around “privacy” and fictional stories of harassment like this one.   

HRC applauds Cristan Williams for debunking the media reports and the Colorado school district for continuing its efforts to provide a welcoming learning environment for all students. 

For more resources on creating learning environments that allow all students to thrive, check out HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools project and the upcoming Time to Thrive conference.

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