Showing up for each other when the government won’t
By Ginna Brelsford and Geoffrey Winder
Trans and queer youth continue to show up for each other even when our schools and government do not.
Today, the Department of Education and Department of Justice rescinded the guidance they released less than a year ago that instructed schools across the country on how to create welcoming, safe, and supportive school environments for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Transgender students will still be protected from sex discrimination under current interpretations of Title IX, however, the guidance provided clear guidelines for schools to provide students with access to school facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, based on their gender identity. The guidelines also symbolized an important victory for trans student rights.
It comes as no surprise that the guidance was reversed and we expect that many of GSA Network’s organizational partners will discuss what this means and the harms it will cause trans youth in schools. We agree and vehemently condemn this action by the current administration.
In this moment, we want to focus on you: trans and queer youth who are leading at GSA Network. We want to uplift the myriad of ways you show up for each other and we want to be very clear about what this action does not mean. We want to let you know that we value you, we stand with you and we love you.
Trans Youth Power
In California, youth leaders were instrumental in passing the School Success and Opportunity Act to ensure that schools allow trans students to access facilities and extracurriculars that aligned with their gender identities. You’ve held your schools accountable to the law since it was enacted in January 2014. You’ve pushed your peers and school administrators even further than the law requires by petitioning for multi-stall gender-inclusive restrooms so any student of any gender identity is able to access the restroom safely. In fact, this law was one of the examples of success referenced in the guidance.
And you joined national campaigns like GSA Day for Gender Justice last November by conducting teach-ins and gender 101 workshops, attending Trans Day of Resilience rallies, hosting open mics, and participating in identity affirming selfie campaigns by sharing your #TransTruth. You shaped the TRUTH Council with GSA Network and Transgender Law Center to help resist and, more importantly, you are shifting the hurtful and dire narratives so often put out about trans and gender nonconforming youth.
Today’s action does not mean you are any less worthy of the guidance they are revoking. It does not mean you are not entitled to the very basic dignity and protection that was outlined in the guidance. And it does not mean your school can ignore you when you demand that they treat you like any other student trying to show up as their authentic self so that you can focus on doing what makes you successful, fulfilled, and engaged.
#TQYouthResist and Show Solidarity
You have been showing up for each other and that will not change. You are leading by pushing your peers and schools to be better. You are resisting the idea that the comfort of the majority cannot be compromised to create comfort and safety for all. Through this all, GSA Network is proud to stand with you. We will continue to provide tools and resources in our collective and persistent efforts to protect, defend, and resist.
GSA Day for Racial Justice on Friday, February 24 gives us yet another opportunity to show the strength of our movement. Throughout the week we’ll be posting about actions, events, and demonstrations of solidarity as part of GSA Day for Racial Justice and #TQYouthResist, a campaign started by GSA Network Northern California Youth Council to show solidarity for one another even when our schools and governments turn away from defending our rights.