Opinion

To Pee or Not to Pee

photo (6)Do you ever feel in danger when you walk into the restroom? Do you know what restroom you will be allowed to go in? Do people call you the wrong preferred gender pronouns? Do you even know what that is? If you answered no to most of these questions then you have not experienced the systematic oppression many transgender and gender non-conforming students face. In Illinois, 89.5% of transgender students feel unsafe in schools, according to GLSEN (Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network) Illinois [1] GLSEN records also show that transgender students reported little to no intervention on the part of school personnel when derogatory language was used.

In the past few years more transgender and gender nonconforming students have spoken up and shared their stories of harassment and discrimination. At a CPS school, three transgender girls were pushed out of school due to the discrimination they faced. These girls would constantly be stopped by security because they were “dressed like girls but looked like boys.” Going to the bathroom was a challenge. One day when the three girls went to the bathroom, they were physically assaulted and removed from the facilities by a security officer. One of the girls felt so frightened she started bringing a knife to school in case of an attack. Eventually, the knife was found, and the girl was suspended. She never returned to school and neither did the other two.

It is not only in Illinois and in high school that transgender and gender non-conforming youth are speaking out about their experiences. This past summer a Colorado civil rights panel ruled in favor of 6-year-old Cory Mathis who was not allowed to used the girls restroom at school. Recently in California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act  (SSOA), making it clear that California public schools have a responsibility to ensure that all of their students—regardless of their gender identity—can access the school facilities ( restroom, locker rooms, etc.) they feel most comfortable in.

Transphobia is a problem that has been around but only recently are people deciding to talk about it and change the systemic oppression put in place by society. Should every student be supported in school regardless of their gender identity ?

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