Safe SchoolS ReSeaRch BRief Understanding School Safety for Transgender Students
California Safe Schools Coalition • 1550 Bryant Street, Suite 800 • San Francisco, CA 94103 • www.casafeschools.org
ABOUT THE RESEARCH
Data are from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Preventing School Harassment (PSH) survey, and focus groups with transgender youth in Western
states. The PSH survey was designed to study the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning high school
students and their straight allies, and the steps schools can take to make schools safer. The PSH survey was developed by the California Safe
Schools Coalition, and administered by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network. Data from over 2,400 students were collected in schools and on
the internet. Students were asked about their experiences of safety at school and about the steps schools can take to make schools safer. A
total of 68 students who participated in the survey identified as transgender.
The Assessment of Resources and Needs for Transgender Adolescents Study (McGuire, Russell, & Anderson, 2009) included focus group
interviews with transgender adolescents who participated in programs for transgender youth through community-based organizations in
several Western states. The study included 36 youth, ages 12-23, at 4 community organizations.
Brill, Stephanie & Pepper, Rachel (2008) The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals, San Francisco, Cleis Press, Inc.
Greytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Diaz, E. M. (2009). Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools. New York:
Kosciw, J. G., Diaz, E. M., & Greytak, E. A. (2008). 2007 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
Transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
McGuire, J. K., Russell, S. T., Anderson, C. (2007). Assessment of Resources and Needs for Transgender Identified Adolescents within the
Context of Sexual Minority Focused Community Centers. Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues: Internship Award Report.
McGuire, J. K., Clarke, T. J., Anderson, C. R., & Russell, S. T. (2010). Understanding School Safety for Transgender Youth. (California Safe
Schools Coalition Research Brief No. 13). San Francisco, CA: California Safe Schools Coalition.
• Speak out when you hear slurs or negative comments related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation,
and gender non-conformity.
• Find out if your school harassment policy covers harassment based on gender (including gender identity and
gender-related appearance, and behavior or “gender identity and expression”) and advocate for changing
the policy if it doesn’t.
• Find out how to make a complaint when bias-motivated harassment towards a transgender or gender non-
conforming individual occurs. You can make a complaint about harassment even if you aren’t the target of
• Speak out in support of actions school districts and schools can take:
• publicizing and enforcing anti-harassment policies,
• providing resources, information, and support to students,
• training teachers and other staff about bullying based on gender identity and gender non-conformity and
how to intervene in harassment,
• measuring and monitoring bias-related harassment in their local school district, and
• including LGBT people and information about sexual orientation and gender identity in the curriculum.
Recommendations for students
• Work with your school district to adopt the model policy regarding transgender and gender non-conforming
youth published by the California Safe Schools Coalition on its website.
• Request training on preventing harassment and discrimination, including bias-motivated harassment due to
gender identity and gender non-conformity. Ask to help publicize school policies on prohibiting harassment
based on gender identity and gender-related appearance and behavior.
• Identify and recognize the unique needs of transgender youth. Make special efforts with the transgender
and gender non-conforming youth at your school to ensure that their unique safety needs are met.
• Intervene if you hear biased comments and slurs related to gender non-conformity. Use each comment as an
opportunity to provide education and reaffirm school policy.
• Learn about and provide resources about gender identity and expression that are specific to transgender
youth needs and experiences.
• Set the climate in classrooms early and as often as necessary; let students know that bias-related harassment
and slurs towards transgender and gender non-conforming students are not acceptable.
• Treat all forms of bias-related harassment and slurs as serious and preventable.
Recommendations for teachers and administrators