A new report reveals that 49% of American educators support policies that deny transgender students basic rights in school.
A survey published in Education Week polled more than 1,000 K-12 teachers, school staff, and board members on range of issues, including bathroom policies.
Respondents were asked whether transgender students should be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, or should be required to use those that match their sex assigned at birth. Barely more than half (51%) favored allowing students using facilities matching their current gender identity.
“There’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to transgender students and bathrooms,” Emily Greytak, Director of Research at GLSEN, told NewNowNext. “Our data demonstrates that teachers’ support for transgender students may lag behind their support for LGB students, partially due to their lack of training and familiarity.”
Greytak says that, according to GLSEN research, only 24% of educators report having had any professional training related to transgender students. That’s unlikely to change in the current political climate: In February, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era protections for trans students.
Some have taken their schools to court over discriminatory policies—and won. Others are still fighting: Virginia teen Gavin Grimm’s case was set to go before the Supreme Court in March, setting a national precedent.
But the case was surprisingly returned to a lower court and, in the meantime, Grimm still wasn’t permitted to use the boys’ bathroom. (He has since graduated.)
Educators’ views on bathroom policies fell mostly along party lines: 85% of respondents who self-identified as Trump voters supported forcing trans kids to use facilities that matched their gender assigned at birth, while 78% of people who voted for Hillary Clinton supported trans-inclusive policies.
“Because I’m a conservative, to me it’s common sense,” Jason Tackett, a teacher at Herald Whitaker Middle School in Kentucky told Education Week. “If you have a boy body part, you should use the boy bathroom.”
Another participant, Anna Bertucci, said that, instead of obsessing over genitalia, educators “should be looking at depression and suicide rates of transgender students,” which are substantially higher than among their peers. Nearly 150,000 American teenagers ages 13 to 17 years old—or one out of every 137—self-identify as transgender.
“We understand that, when it comes to supporting transgender students, many educators may not always know what’s best,” says Greytak. “It’s essential that educators be required to undergo continuous professional development to better understand what their legal obligations are when it comes to affirming the rights of their transgender students, and best practices that are currently in place on how to best support all of their students.”