Friday, February 27, 2009

Students Celebrate GLSEN’s TransAction to Educate Peers about Gender

NEW YORK, NY (Observer Update) - Students across the country participated in GLSEN’s TransAction!, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s first day of action specifically dedicated to understanding gender and transgender issues in school.

TransAction is a day to encourage dialogue about gender, gender roles and the full range of gender identities, and to advocate for inclusive, safe schools for all students.

“Bullying based on gender expression is one of the first types of harassment that children learn, with the word ‘sissy’ perhaps being the most common taunt heard in playgrounds across the country,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “By high school, transgender students and those who don’t conform to societal norms of gender expression face far harsher realities, including physical assault and violence. TransAction is an opportunity to highlight the need to address harassment based on gender expression. All of our students deserve to be safe in schools, and transgender students certainly are no exception.”

Students participate in TransAction in various ways, from holding workshops on gender in Gay-Straight Alliance meetings to encouraging schools to include gender identity/expression in their anti-bullying policies.

GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students reported experiencing higher levels of harassment and assault related to gender expression than other students:

• 38.4% of LGBT students (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression

• two-thirds (66.5%) of LGBT students were verbally harassed, 30.4% were physically harassed and 14.2% were physically assaulted because of their gender expression

• transgender students by far face higher levels of violence and assault, almost four times higher than other students.

All students are victimized to some degree by gender-based bullying. Bullying based on gender expression is the third most common reason students are bullied in schools, following physical appearance and actual or perceived sexual orientation, as reported by a national sample of students in the 2005 Harris Interactive report From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America.

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