Open Letter Supporting the Full Inclusion of Transgender and All LGBTQI+ Youth –

View PDF of letter here.

In Support of Full Inclusion for Transgender and All LGBTQI+ Youth: An Open Letter from the Civil and Human Rights Community

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 150 undersigned organizations, we call for the full inclusion, protection, and celebration of transgender and non-binary youth, including access to extracurricular activities such as athletics and to school facilities, safe and inclusive school environments, accurate and inclusive curriculum, and gender-affirming school health services. We reject the bigoted, ignorant, mean-spirited, and discriminatory policies currently being considered by far too many state legislatures that seek to exclude transgender people and make these members of our communities invisible. Targeting and excluding transgender students from participation in school programming, including athletics programs, alongside their cisgender[1] peers is harmful to all students and undermines the learning environment for everyone. If schools mark some students effectively as outcasts, they foster an environment where no student is included and safe.

Currently, there is an unprecedented wave of proposed and enacted laws across the country that aim to make participating in school intolerable for LGBTQI+ students and especially transgender students. These laws aim to shut transgender youth out of school activities such as sports, to ban them from school facilities such as restrooms, to prohibit discussion of their very existence in classrooms, and to punish educators and families who help young people access necessary gender-affirming care.[2] These proposals seek to punish and harm a population of young people already marginalized by stigma, bullying, and harassment.[3],[4],[5] We, the civil and human rights community, support the full inclusion and protection of transgender and non-binary youth. We are fortunate that transgender people are present in our community, and we fully embrace them as members of our community. As organizations that care deeply about ending sex-based discrimination and ensuring equal educational opportunities, we support laws and policies that protect transgender people from discrimination, including participation in sports, access to gender-affirming care, access to school facilities, and access to inclusive curriculum. We firmly believe that an attack on transgender youth is an attack on civil rights.

A multitude of bills seeking to exclude transgender youth and youth born with intersex traits from athletics would harm both cisgender and transgender girls and women, particularly Black and Brown girls and women.[6],[7] These laws are likely to violate both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, putting states’ federal educational funding in jeopardy. We reject the suggestion that girls and women who are cisgender benefit from the exclusion of girls and women who are transgender or intersex.[8] State leaders who care about women’s and girls’ sports should reject these bills and instead focus on closing the gender and racial disparities in athletics opportunities and participation and on protecting student athletes from sexual abuse.[9]

Transgender students face disproportionately high rates of sex discrimination at school, including sexual assault and harassment or bullying because of their gender identity and gender expression.[10] Transgender and non-binary people of color face even deeper and broader patterns of discrimination than their White transgender peers.[11] Bills that would exclude transgender and intersex students from athletics would further deprive transgender students of access to educational opportunities and could place them at greater risk of sexual assault.[12] With violence — including physical and sexual assaults and murders — against transgender women at an epidemic level,[13] these bills only serve to create an unsafe educational environment for transgender youth, while sending children the message that transgender people — and transgender girls and women in particular — are not entitled to the equal treatment, dignity, and respect they are taught other people deserve. Simply put, preventing transgender and intersex girls and women from participating in school athletics is a recipe for more trauma,…

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