School policies across the state to specifically address the rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) students vary, and advocacy groups say those can have a long-term impact on kids.
A teacher in Brownsburg recently resigned from his job after refusing to use transgender students’ preferred names. In Evansville, the ACLU is suing a district on behalf of a transgender student who was denied use of the restroom matching his gender identity.
Director of Indiana Youth Group Chris Paulsen says without the right support in schools, transgender kids are at higher risk for dropping out or even suicide.
“Teachers that don’t respect trans students will have negative effects that will be lifelong for these students,” she says.
Federal law protects transgender students from discrimination, and the State Department of Education says it expects schools to follow that law. But Paulsen says guidelines at the local level are essential.
“It’s important that administrators and teachers and faculty understand the issues that transgender students run into and the consequences of those issues.”
Some districts in the state have decided to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their own school anti-discrimination policies. Some private schools that accept school voucher money from the state have openly anti-LGBTQ admission policies.