An Open Letter

An Open Letter to a certain New York Superintendent of Schools:

It has come to my attention that one of your students is having a difficult time at school. This student happens to be transgender. I, too, have a transgender student. My son is 14, and a sophomore at “Another High School.” I am writing because I believe we all have a responsibility to do the best we can for ALL of our students. Since my son has come out, I have learned a lot about transgender kids. Some of the beliefs and assumptions I held previously have been disproven and debunked by my own research. It really doesn’t take much time to learn what’s best for these kids, and it often takes very little effort to help them out, making them more successful academically and socially. They may sometimes have different needs than other kids, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to accommodate them.

And these kids need our help. Did you know that…
– 74.1% of LGBT students were verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation; 55.2% were harassed because of their gender expression (acting “too masculine” or “too feminine”).
– The average grade point average (GPA) for LGBT students who were frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was significantly lower than that of LGBT students experiencing less harassment.
– Approximately 30% of LGBT students reported skipping a class at least once in the past month and missing at least one full day of school in the past month because they felt uncomfortable or unsafe at school.
– Most LGBT students who are harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff. The most common reason they gave for not reporting was that they believed staff would not do anything about it.
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It’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and administration to set the example. Creating school environments that respect and affirm gender diversity will empower all students rather than limit them. They may sometimes have different needs than other kids, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to accommodate them. In fact, it’s in everybody’s best interest to create an atmosphere where ALL children can thrive.

“Another High School” has done an awesome job of accommodating and supporting their LGBTQ youth. I would urge you, your Board, your teachers, and administration to look into this topic, as they have at “Another.” As our society is becoming more understanding and compassionate, LGBTQ kids are beginning to feel comfortable enough to show themselves, to come out. They are becoming accomplished, passionate, creative, productive members of our society. They are our children, our neighbors, our nieces, and nephews, our cousins, our friends, our cashiers, our bankers, our grocers, our teachers, our pastors. The longer we live, the more we will see LGBT folks enjoying every aspect of life that the rest of us have enjoyed for so long. The more we can educate ourselves and each other, the better we will all be.

Two simple, easy to read, and free resources I would suggest are Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools (https://www.genderspectrum.org/staging/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Schools-in-Transition-2015.pdf)  and SAFE SPACE KIT: A Guide to Supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Your School (https://www.glsen.org/…/GLSEN%20Safe%20Space%20Kit.pdf).

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,

A Mother

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