Last year, trans students all around the United States struggled with maintaining high grades, attendance and just keeping up with the rigor and intensity of American high schools, all in the face of adversity and hostility. As a matter of fact, GLSEN released a report two years ago showing that LGBT-identifing students were less likely to complete high school than straight and cisgender students and are more likely to be bullied, harassed and stripped of their identity. This situation was made worse later with the election of an increasingly homophobic, transphobic and anti-LGBT president and the cessation of significant protections for trans students rolled out during the Obama administration. In order to protect their transgender students, schools themselves have to take action, mainly because the current administration is just fine with leaving trans kids out in the cold.
Obama-era policies and protections have to be rolled out again, but individually. Recently, the Trump administration has attacked trans people all around the country, with the transgender military ban still fresh in our minds. In addition to this, education secretary Betsy DeVos has repeatedly revoked protections for trans students and the Trump administration has stated time and time again that trans students shouldn’t be allowed to use their bathroom of choice when attending school. Most importantly, earlier this year, Trump rescinded and revoked protective policies from his predecessor, making it harder for trans students to feel welcome in schools. The solution is complex and intricate, but in short, we need protections for trans students if we don’t want to lose any more of them.
With this track record of attacking trans rights, it’s hard to believe that the administration will do anything positive in the next three years, which is why it’s important to understand that schools need to take action to protect their LGBT students. Gay-Straight Alliances, which are only present in a few but growing number of public schools throughout the country, are quickly spreading awareness of the discrimination and phobia surrounding trans students and are taking an important place in securing a proper learning environment for trans students. When our government won’t protect thousands of students because of their identity, groups like student alliances are taking their place, looking after their own fellow peers. This type of cooperative support is what our country needs in this increasingly divisive and polarizing era.