[This article has been amended to correct the exclusionary language usage of “transgender” when speaking of both transsexual and transgender students.]
03.18.2009 6:06pm EDT
(New York City) A new study finds transssexual and transgender youths face extremely high levels of victimization in school – even more so than their lesbian, gay and bisexual peers.
But the study, by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, also found they are more likely to speak out about LGBT/T issues in the classroom.
Called ”Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools,” it is the first comprehensive study on transsexual and transgender students.
Nearly nine out of 10 transsexual and transgender students experienced verbal harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and gender expression, more than half experienced physical harassment because of their sexual orientation and gender expression and more than a quarter experienced physical assault because of their sexual orientation and gender expression.
The levels of victimization were higher than those faced by the non-transgender lesbian, gay and bisexual students who participated in the GLSEN ”2007 National School Climate Survey.”
“[This] demonstrates the urgent need for educators, policymakers and all who care about safe schools to address the disproportionate victimization of transsexual and transgender students and to improve the knowledge and understanding of all members of the school community about issues related to gender and gender expression,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.
“It is important to note, however, that in the face of extreme harassment, transgender students are resilient and taking the lead to bring up LGBT issues in school,” she said.
In addition to looking at comparisons between transsexual/ transgender and non-trans students, “Harsh Realities” specifically examined the experiences of the 295 transsexual/transgender students who took the ”National School Climate Survey.”
The high rate of victimization had a direct impact on school attendance and academic performance. Transsexual/transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment were more likely to miss school because they felt unsafe and had lower grade point averages than those who experienced lower levels of harassment.
Less than a fifth of transsexual/transgender students said that school staff intervened most of the time or always when hearing homophobic remarks or negative remarks about someone’s gender expression.
In addition, school staff also contributed to the harassment. A third of transsexual/transgender students heard school staff make homophobic remarks, sexist remarks and negative comments about someone’s gender expression in the past year.