Human Rights Campaign Condemns Texas School Board for Sweeping Set of Attacks on Transgender Youth

by Aryn Fields

This week, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District voted to approve a series of bans and policies taking aim at the existence of open dialogue regarding race, gender identity, and the rights of transgender and gender fluid students.

In response, Human Rights Campaign Texas Field Organizer Preston Knight issued the following statement criticizing the decision and its implications for the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth:

“Right now, students are returning to school, hoping that their classrooms will be a place to learn and a place for them to be treated with safety, dignity and respect. Unfortunately, this week’s news out of Texas, that the Grapevine-Colleyville School District has voted to ban discussion of transgender people, is a clear indication that LGTBQ+ students in that district will only be met with further stigma and isolation. This is yet another example of extremist Texas public officials focusing on riling up extremist members of their base instead of the wellbeing of the kids who they are supposed to be protecting.”

Studies clearly demonstrate the harms for LGBTQ+ youth mental health when they are denied affirming and protective school environments:

  • Youth living in states with enumerated antibullying laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity report less homophobic victimization and harassment than do students who attend schools in states without these protections.
  • LGBTQ+ students in schools with LGBTQ+ supporting clubs and sexual orientation & gender identity resources often report feeling safer and are less likely to report depressive symptom, substance use, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in comparison with students in schools lacking such resources.
  • 86% of LGBTQ+ youth report they have been targets of bullying, harassment, or assault at school.
  • A recent Trevor Project survey showed that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by the current wave of legislative attacks.

The HRC Foundation provides training and resources to support LGBTQ+ young people in schools and the child welfare system via its Welcoming Schools and All Children, All Families program – both of which are still operating in Florida. Welcoming Schools provides educators with the tools and training to embrace teachable moments, interrupt bias-based bullying, support transgender and non-binary students, and be prepared to answer important questions about LGBTQ+ and gender topics with students and families. The program offers LGBTQ+ and gender inclusive professional development training, lesson plans, booklists and resources specifically designed for educators and youth-serving professionals. All Children – All Families promotes LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies. Participants gain access to comprehensive resources, including an online self-assessment tool, expert webinars on LGBTQ+ topics, group-based technical assistance and more.

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