Yesterday we saw another campaign promise fulfilled with the reversal of the Obama's rules for schools with regards to transgender children and their access to bathrooms. This was a sad day because of that, because we are removing protections for some of our most vulnerable children. I hope this is the end of this kind of executive action, but as long as there are members of the social reich in the White House and having the President's ear, we will continue to have this kind of action.
Why is this bad? Well, lets start off with some statistics I've seen thrown around the last few days. First, and probably most troubling, is that for LGBT children, suicide rates are higher than non-LGBT children. What should be shocking is that transgender people have a suicide rate of over 42% (women) to 46% (men)1. Think on that. When this report was written in 2014, the national overall suicide rate was 4.6%. For lesbian and gay people, it was 10-20%. We are talking about nearly one in every two people that are transgender attempting to take their life. This is not even talking about the general discrimination that they have to endure on a regular basis.
Our schools are supposed to be a safe place and allow all students to focus on learning the skills they will need as adults. Putting aside all the issues we have with the actual education of our children, and they are many, we have LGBT youth, and especially transgender youth being bullied to the point that they don't feel safe at school. Just look at the statistics:
- 82% of transgender youth report that they feel unsafe at school
- 44% of them had been abused physically (ex. punched, shoved, etc.)
- 67% of them had been bullied online
- 64% of them had their property stolen or destroyed2
and this results in:
- About six times more likely to be seriously depressed
- More than eight times more likely to attempt suicide
- More than three times more likely to abuse illegal drugs
- More than three times more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior2
This is not acceptable. Seeing those numbers, can you blame a person for feeling like they are worth nothing, and that suicide is a reasonable escape? It's never a reason, but one could see how one could come to that conclusion.
I will give credit where it is due. The new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVoss did try to stand up for the children, but was overruled by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump.3 We can see though that this is really not just about bathrooms. This is about allowing children to live as normal a life as they can. With an interview with the teenager that has a case before the Supreme Court, we see all he wants is to use the bathroom like the rest of his classmates. His being given the accommodation of using a unisex, single person bathroom only stigmatizes him more and encourages more bullying.4
If we truly care about our children, we need to protect them. These laws and directives are all about putting people that are not "normal" back into their place and marginalize them out of existence. This is not new for America. We have had this happen with Afro-Americans and women throughout our history. We need to fight to protect our most vulnerable.
So, as you have probably seen all over the place over the last few months. Contact your representatives. All of them. The ones in Washington may help prevent these things from being laws. Your local ones will help people in your city, county, state, especially when we are likely to see a move towards state rights.
Finally, if you, or someone you know, is ever feeling suicidal. Get help. Everyone is valuable. The ending of your suffering only causes suffering to a much larger number of people who know you. I've lost friends to suicide, I speak first hand to having seen how it affects a community. There are professionals out there that are willing to help. Please, keep the national suicide prevention hotline available: 1-800-273-8255 There is more information on their website for those that may be considering suicide, and also for those that want to help. http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/