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Educators urge U.S. Supreme Court to protect rights of transgender students

School-based discrimination harms transgender students and denies them equal education opportunities


WASHINGTON - March 02, 2017 -

The National Education Association and a coalition of national organizations representing a broad swath of education professionals—employees who interact with students everywhere from the bus stop to after-school programs and everything in between—today filed a friend of the court brief asking the United States Supreme Court to protect the rights of transgender students.

Joining NEA are the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; National Association of Secondary School Principals; Service Employees International Union; and School Social Work Association of America.

The filing of the brief comes on the heels of a dangerous and irresponsible Trump administration decision to rescind federal guidance advising schools districts to comply with their legal obligations to protect transgender students from discrimination. Withdrawing the federal guidance didn’t change the law, but it did highlight the need for the Supreme Court to step in. In response to the rescission, educators reiterated their pledge to protect the civil rights of LGBTQ students and members.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:
“Every student matters, and every student has the right to be safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. We have a moral, legal, and professional duty to support all students, including our transgender students. That’s why today we urge the Supreme Court to protect the rights of transgender students and take a bold stand against discrimination in whichever form it takes.

“Educators know firsthand that school-based discrimination against transgender students harms them profoundly by stigmatizing them and denying them equitable educational opportunities. This discrimination is based on unjustifiable fear and hate of transgender students—fear and hate that in turn leads to harassment, abuse, and even violence directed at transgender students. There is no justification for this.

“We ask the Court to send a clear and unequivocal message that students like Gavin have the right to equal treatment in school.

“When transgender students are respected at school, they are able to engage fully with the educational experience, and when that happens, transgender students, like all students, are able to thrive. Safe and supportive schools, as educators know, are good for all students.

“Absent a clear decision in Gavin’s favor, many educators will be compelled to enforce discriminatory policies. These policies not only harm our students but harm educators too. Compelling us to discriminate against our students runs counter to everything we stand for as people and professionals.”

Click here to read the amici curiae.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, NEA Communications
(202) 491-9532, mgonzalez@nea.org