Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker recently signed an executive order that focuses on making schools safer for transgender students. Image by Jose M. Osorio via Chicago Tribune.
On June 30th, Governor Pritzker of Illinois signed an executive order that is designed to minimize discrimination, bullying, and harassment, of transgender students, according to Think Progress.
As per the order, a twenty-five person task force called the Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force, a group made up of parents, students, teachers, medical professionals, and representatives from community-based organizations, will be created to come up with policy recommendations aimed to edify school officials on transgender issues such as dress codes, bathroom policies, correct pronoun usage, and name changes. These recommendations will be published by the Illinois Board of Education, but they will remain recommendations, as schools will not be forced to implement them. The recommendations will be published by January 1st of next year.
Illinois is one of the few states that has full protection in employment for LGBTQ people so it seems relatively likely that the schools will choose to implement the recommendations. Of course, there will be some people who object to them but I’m hopeful that Illinois will become a state in which trans people aren’t afraid to go to school, something that is definitely needed as the majority of transgender students do not feel safe in schools.
According to this study by GLSEN, 85% of trans students were harassed because of their gender identity, 80% avoided bathrooms because they felt unsafe, and 59% of trans students had to use the bathroom that did not match their gender identity. Because of this, I am glad that someone is actively taking steps to combat these frightening statistics as a safe student is, logically, a more productive student. Additionally, by recommending the aforementioned policies, Pritzker may create a more accepting environment by showing that transgender students deserve the same respect as their cisgender counterparts.
There are many more issues facing the transgender community that hopefully will be resolved or at least decreased sooner rather than later, but this is, in my opinion, an imperative step in granting equality to transgender Americans. We can only hope that the schools choose to implement the recommendations as schools should not be places of fear – students are there to learn.
Source: Think Progress