Friday, October 29, 2010

Helpful Resource from Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project - a New York City legal aid organization that serves transgender and gender non-conforming people - recently released a fact sheet and supplementary webpage on trans and gender non-conforming youth in schools. The new resource reviews important definitions that relate to the trans and gender non-conforming students, and expounds upon legal rights for those individuals living in New York State and specifically New York City. The fact sheet also reviews the obligations that school faculty, administrators and staff have to protect students from harassment and discrimination.

One very helpful aspect of this fact sheet is an outline that details a few ways in which schools can adopt policies to create an atmosphere that is not hostile to transgender and gender non-conforming students. The commonplace pattern in our society is often to speak about LGBT rights, without giving enough credence or attention to gender identity, and specifically transgender issues. Perhaps the most vulnerable period in the life of a person who is contemplating their particular gender identity and gender expression is when they are young adults, so it’s important to keep that in mind when discussing subject matter pertinent to the ways we can improve our schools for LGBT students.

Some of the recommendations made to school administrators and faculty is to create gender neutral restrooms, avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes, incorporate positive information about transgender issues into curricula, and to arrange for transgender awareness training for faculty, staff, and administrators from a qualified community-based trainer, which is one specific thing PFLAG can directly help with through Transgender Youth and Gender Variance training.

To learn more about the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and to review these new resources, please click here.

This post was written by Eric VanDreason, the newest edition to PFLAG National’s Policy Team. To learn more about Eric and his role at the National Office, please visit our staff page here.

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