Survey: Nearly Three-Quarters Of Arizona Transgender Students Experience Some Mistreatment At School

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 3:54pm
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 4:04pm

For many students, school can be a challenge. For students who are transgender, it can be a battleground.

In the most recent U.S. Transgender Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly three-quarters of Arizona students who are transgender said they experienced some form of mistreatment at school.

Almost half of them said they were verbally harassed, 24 percent were physically attacked, and 8-percent said they were sexually assaulted because of being transgender.

They are sobering statistics that shed a light on the precarious spot that school administrators and transgender students find themselves in as federal guidance and local regulations often conflict over how to approach issues like bathrooms and names.

How is this playing out in Arizona? It runs the gamut. I spoke with Cammy Bellis about this. She's the director of the Transgender Education Program at ASU, and she has developed trainings for schools — teachers, administrators, nurses, counselors — to help them “affirm” transgender students.

She said there are a lot of little issues that pop up for schools when they’re working with transgender students — what bathroom they can use, but also being called by their asserted name, changing school records, and accessing locker rooms and sports in correspondence with their gender identity.

And I asked her that question: what are the rules for schools right now when it comes to transgender students?

I also wanted to know how this plays out in the classroom. So I spoke with Tami Staas. She's a third-grade teacher at Summit Academy in Mesa, and she has a son who is transgender.

We spoke about how her son’s transition changed the way she approaches these issues in her own classroom.

The Transgender Education Program and EdPlus Continuing Education at ASU just launched a new, online course for K-12 staff to take to become better informed about these issues. You can register for the course here.

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