An op-ed in the New York Post vilified the events’ racial justice focus and claimed the curriculum was “racism and victimhood, plus transgender and ‘queer’ rights, with a heavy dose of political indoctrination in the mix.” The conservative group Independent Women’s Forum similarly claimed that students were being “thrown into gender wars maelstrom.”
Affirming trans students’ gender identity is a life-saving practice that has long-term positive outcomes
Affirming trans and gender-nonconforming students is necessary for young students to thrive and is supported by leading educational organizations. The National Education Association recommends that educational institutions “accept a student’s assertion of the student’s gender identity and not require any particular substantiating evidence,” among other affirming policies, as does the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Research shows that transgender youth are best able to succeed when their teachers and families accept and affirm their gender identity, which has been proven to reduce their risk of experiencing depression, homelessness, and suicidal ideation.
Moreover, the right-wing claim that “these kids are too young to fully understand their own bodies” is in direct contrast to the science that shows that trans children sense their gender identities at a young age. According to the American Psychological Association, “children usually have a sense of their gender identity between age 2 to 5 and they typically become cognizant of their sexual orientation around age 9 or 10.”
Trans students face rampant discrimination at school in the U.S. According to the 2017 National School Climate Survey by GLSEN, a leading LGBTQ educational organization, nearly 85% of trans students and 76% of gender-nonconforming students were victimized at school for their gender expression. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trans students are also at greater risk of violence, substance abuse, and suicide compared to their cisgender peers.