A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that nearly 2% of current high school students identify as transgender, even as more than half of them report feeling unsafe in their schools.
The study from the current Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) also found that 35% of transgender students have been bullied at school, and 35% have attempted suicide.
“Transgender youths (those whose gender identity does not align with their sex) experience disparities in violence victimization, substance abuse, suicide risk, and sexual risk compared with their cisgender peers (those whose gender identity does align with their sex),” states the report. “Yet few large-scale assessments of these disparities among high school students exist.”
Utilizing data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), the study was able to look at data covering students in ten states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin) as well as nine large school districts in other states. The pool of data covered a total of 131,901 students nationwide.
This allowed researchers to look at both the prevalence of transgender high school students as well as how their transgender status affected their rates of sexual risk behaviors, substance abuse, suicide risk, and violence victimization compared with their cisgender peers.
The study backs up other similar findings that have shown that transgender students are at a much higher risk than their cisgender counterparts when it comes to violence, suicide risk, and substance abuse.
The study also makes it clear that schools need to address their transgender student’s needs, especially when it comes to violence, such as anti-bullying programs.
“Transgender youths in high school appear to face serious risk for violence victimization, substance use, and suicide, as well as some sexual risk behaviors, indicating a need for programmatic efforts to better support the overall health of transgender youths. Taking steps to create safe learning environments and provide access to culturally competent physical and mental health care might be important first steps to improving the health of transgender youths,” concludes the report
The Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos, unfortunately, seems more willing to cut programs protecting students than adding new ones.
In February of last year, the Department of Education stated that they will not take action on complaints from transgender students regarding restroom access, and is seeking to weaken Title IX protections for sexual harassment and violence in schools.