Once again, schools around the state and around the country are returning from summer break. Transgender students often face tremendous bullying and harassment from fellow students, and even from faculty and administrators.
The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) wants all transgender students, staff, and faculty to feel safe and secure as their schools resume this summer and fall.
While the Tennessee General Assembly has refused to pass comprehensive anti-bullying legislation, two schools districts in the state, out of 140 districts, do have fully inclusive non discrimination and anti-bullying policies: Metro Nashville and Putnam County.
It is time that all school districts adopt similar policies.
In April 2014, U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new guidance describing the responsibilities of colleges, universities and public schools to address sexual violence and other forms of sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This discrimination can also include being denied the use of gender appropriate facilities.
The guidelines, “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence”, further clarifies and expands the requirements of Title IX. The guidance can also be found at NotAlone.gov .
A related “Know Your Rights” document is available in English here and Spanish here. This document includes information on how to file a complaint.
Since OCR released its new guidance, school districts in both California and Maine were forced by federal courts to begin treating their trans students with dignity and respect, and a similar lawsuit in Virginia is proceeding.
The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition shares this new resource from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which may help those of you who are working in your local school districts to ensure that trans students are treated equally and with dignity and respect.
Federal legislation which would have provided further clarification, the Student Non Discrimination Act, was defeated in the United States Senate earlier this year. Both of Tennessee's Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, voted against protecting LGBT youth.
In Higher Education, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (December 2007), Tennessee Board of Regents (February 2008), Vanderbilt University (October 2008), and Rhodes College (July 2013) have all adopted fully inclusive non-discrimination policies. Recently, the Administration at Middle Tennessee State University, which is covered by the Tennessee Board of Regents policy, has issued an update to the school's Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
We urge all institutions of higher learning in Tennessee to update their own policies, even if they are part of the Tennessee Board of Regents, to ensure that all trans students, staff, and faculty are treated fairly and with dignity and respect.