The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released the findings from a 2017 cross-sectional LGBT study earlier this month. The study showed transgender and non-binary students who attend schools with restrictive bathroom and locker room policies are at a higher risk of sexual assault by their peers.
Bathroom and locker room restrictions and bans are used by schools to prevent transgender teens — those whose gender identity differ from the gender they were assigned at birth — and non-binary teens — those who do not identify as either male or female — from using facilities that correspond with the gender they identify with.
Leading LGBT Expert Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW tells Parentology these bathroom restrictions may be responsible for increased sexual assaults because the bans themselves originate from the promotion of fear and lies. “As such, it creates an ignorance and a desire to react to the fear. When this occurs, it sets up the ignorant person to negatively react based on their incorrect information and fear, which results in assaults.”
Shane goes on to say that schools can work to reduce rates of assault by lifting lifting individual bans or increasing specific education, but that there is more work to be done outside of school as well. “However, the way to lower rates of violence and ignorance is for parents and community leaders to guide folks to understand how to critically read information, how to research and verify source materials and news reports, and to encourage curiosity rather than fear when faced with differences.”
Trans writer, speaker, mentor and diversity and inclusion education expert Hannah Simpson agrees, telling Parentology she recommends frank conversations about news headlines such as the ban on transgender military service, and the murders of transgender women of color, to help dispel some of the anti-trans narrative.
For people looking to get involved in areas where schools are reluctant or slow to lift bathroom bans, there are things the local community can do. Shane says, “Show up. Speak up. Talk with schools and employers about gender policies and ask to be a part of changes to create more inclusion.”
Shane also says allies should be alert when they are in restrooms and public spaces, and support minority groups of all types — including trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming — so places and conversations become safer. “Continue to read about the latest political situations and consistently let your politicians know your feelings and support of gender minorities.”
Shane recommends parents of cisgender children — those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth — teach their kids about boundaries, consent and having respect for others.
For parents of trans and non-binary children, who may be alarmed over the findings of this new study, Shane recommends remembering that it is within their control to make sure that their home always a loving, accepting and nurturing place for their children.
“The overarching goal must be to offer external and internal care for children while teaching them healthy ways to interact with a world that may not always be kind to them.”
AAP News & Journals Gateway
Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW
Hannah Simpson, Trans Youth Mentor