Recently I went to a local California high school and observed a student club meeting for the Gay Straight Alliance, or GSA. To my surprise students brought up the topic of trans-phobia sighting that they (trans students) are afraid to use school bathrooms because of fear that they will get beat up despite the fact that there are no reported incidences of assaults on trans students on this particular campus.
About 20 years ago, after being bullied by my peers, I became a high school drop out. I was gay, I was badly and repeatedly harassed, and I eventually became fearful of my school campus. 20 years ago, being a gay man was as odd as being a trans person is odd today. For that reason I empathized with these GSA/trans students and was glad to share my point of view with them at their meeting.
Today my motivational moment is about TRANSparancy and the idea that in order to serve the needs of all students… campuses and all public places need to be crystal clear about their policies for enforcing the law and for punishing those who break it. Society needs to understand that kids are not going to the bathroom on high school campuses in 2017 out of fear for their safety. This fear is wrapped up in the uncertainty of how they might be treated should a negative altercation TRANSpire. It’s the same reason I was in fear for my safety. I didn’t know who I could trust in the event that I really needed help. I didn’t know what would happen to me if I was beat up for being a queer man. I didn’t know how my school, my community, or my family would react if I was involved in an incident that was the result of another’s reaction to my sexuality and gender identity. As a teen, because I didn’t know how things would play out, I was in fear that ANYTHING I did could result in a negative repercussion… even if it wasn’t my fault or doing.
TRANSparancy is about all stakeholders sharing a clear and publicly valued set of rules and consequences. And… it’s about sending the message to young people that they are valued and protected no matter what their orientation happens to be. Schools, parents, communities! We need to be better about how and how often we demonstrate how we value minority groups so that kids in California and across the globe feel safe to be who they are. So that kids don’t have to wonder what will happen if something happens. For god sake, no person should have to postpone a basic human need like using the restroom because they do not feel safe, or worse yet because they assume that their community will not support them in the event that they should encounter a harmful situation.
Peace and love,