AFT Resolution

SCHOOL SAFETY AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, QUEER AND QUESTIONING (LGBTQ) STUDENTS

WHEREAS, LGBTQ students, nationally, are targeted with physical violence and experience a hostile school environment more frequently than their non-LGBTQ peers, and face additional challenges that threaten their health, safety and learning opportunities in schools; and

WHEREAS, LGBTQ students who are bullied, harassed or experience a hostile, stigmatizing or disrespectful environment are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, feel excluded from the school or college community, and experience lower academic achievement and stunted educational aspirations; and

WHEREAS, to ensure academic and developmental progress, all students deserve a safe, supportive educational environment where they are treated equally and fairly, respected for who they are as a person, protected from discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and have an opportunity to participate equally in all programs and activities; and

WHEREAS, adverse health and educational consequences for transgender students are even greater than those for LGB students, and, in a national report, 26 percent of transgender students were assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their gender expression; and

WHEREAS, LGBTQ students with intersecting marginalized identities (e.g., black gay males, LGBTQ students with disabilities) are at greater risk of negative emotional, health and educational achievement outcomes; and

WHEREAS, an individual’s gender identity is a defining aspect of his or her sex, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have clarified that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender nonconformity is literally sex discrimination; and

WHEREAS, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education offered clarification and guidance as to the issues of transgender students on May 13, 2016 (Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students), which will be utilized to examine local policies and procedures for support of such pupils as well as adherence to Title IX structures; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Education has asserted a significant interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination, clarifying that Title IX prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender identity, gender nonconformity and sex stereotyping, and that transgender students must have access to programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity; and

WHEREAS, many jurisdictions have adopted policies or developed model guidance on providing safe and welcoming learning environments for LGBTQ youth, including the Michigan State Board of Education-proposed Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students, which specifically recommends that schools:

  1. Implement anti-bullying policies explicitly protecting LGBTQ students;
  2. Offer professional development opportunities on issues affecting LGBTQ students;
  3. Support extracurricular clubs such as Gay-Straight Alliances;
  4. Develop meaningful family engagement and support for families of LGBTQ students;
  5. Integrate respect for human rights, including LGBTQ rights, across the curriculum;
  6. Provide developmentally appropriate resources on LGBTQ issues (e.g., in libraries, faculty resources);
  7. Collect and review data to identify disparities and barriers for LGBTQ students;
  8. Designate a building-level staff person who is conversant in issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression; and
  9. Adopt specific policies for ensuring transgender students are treated in a manner consistent with their gender identity, including:
  1. Using chosen name and pronouns;
  2. Changing name and gender in school records;
  3. Ensuring student privacy and confidentiality in disclosing private student information;
  4. Providing access to facilities and programs according to the student’s gender identity;
  5. Implementing gender-neutral dress codes; and
  6. Reviewing all gender-based activities; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers and its locals and state affiliates have played a critical and historic role in fighting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and have a long institutional history of leadership in securing better educational and working conditions and better lives for members of all groups facing stigma and pervasive discrimination:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates will support adoption, implementation and enforcement, at the district, institutional and state levels, of policies that support the safety and educational achievement of LGBTQ students in K-12 as well as postsecondary education, that specifically ensure that transgender students have equal access consistent with their gender identity to sex-segregated facilities and programs, and that include adoption of all of the policy recommendations as expressed in the Michigan State Board of Education-proposed Guidance on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates will support the Office for Civil Rights guidance and demand its implementation at the district, institutional and state levels at pre-K through grade 12 schools as well as institutions of higher learning; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates will actively oppose the adoption, implementation or enforcement of policies or legislation at the district, state and federal levels that undermine the safety and education of LGBTQ students, or that limit transgender student access consistent with their gender identity to sex-segregated facilities or programs, or that otherwise discriminate against students or educational or school-related staff on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender nonconformity; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates will support inclusion of items relating to gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation in school data collection (e.g., the Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Study) to identify, track and address health and achievement gaps in these at-risk youth; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates will support training for union members, staff and leadership, as well as all instructional staff, school-related personnel and administrators at the school, district, institutional and state levels, to deepen understanding of LGBTQ issues and policy implementation to support LGBTQ students, including training specific to the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT press states to adopt measures that ensure transgender people full participation in society, including the right to use facilities in accordance with their gender identities, creating a state that is a safe and welcoming place where communities can recognize the talents and skills of all their residents, regardless of gender identity or expression.

(2016)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.