Reconstructing Judaism and The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association has signed on to the open letter supporting the full inclusion of all LGBTQIA+ youth alongside 145 other organizations calling for the full inclusion, protection, and celebration of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth.
Read the full statement below.
July 26, 2023
In Support of Full Inclusion for Transgender and All LGBTQI+ Youth:
An Open Letter from the Civil and Human Rights Community
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 145 undersigned organizations, we call for the full inclusion, protection, and celebration of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth. As organizations that care deeply about ending sex-based discrimination and ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students, we support laws and policies that protect transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people from discrimination, including participation in sports, access to gender-affirming care, access to school facilities, and access to inclusive curriculum. We reject the bigoted, ignorant, mean-spirited, and discriminatory policies currently being considered by far too many state legislatures, which seek to exclude and render invisible transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people, in addition to criminalizing the faculty and adults who support them. These legislative attacks foster an environment that promotes bullying, scrutiny, and body policing of all students while depriving them of the essential support they need to learn — creating an environment where no student is included and safe.
The attacks on transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth are harmful to all students and undermine the learning environment for everyone.
Currently, there is an unprecedented wave of proposed and enacted laws across the country that aim to make participating in school intolerable for LGBTQI+ students — especially transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students. These laws aim to shut these young students out of school activities such as sports, ban them from school facilities such as restrooms, prohibit discussion of their very existence in classrooms, prevent them from reading the books that reflect their lives, and punish educators and families who help them access necessary and life-saving gender-affirming care and treat them with dignity and respect. In addition to the record number of proposed state sports bans targeting transgender students, federal legislation recently passed the House of Representatives that would amend Title IX to prevent transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students from playing school sports. These proposals seek to punish and harm a population of young people already marginalized by stigma, bullying, and harassment.
The record number of bills seeking to exclude transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth from athletics not only harm the mental health of trans youth and significantly decrease their opportunities to play, but they also harm all women and girls by policing their bodies. This also especially harms Black and Brown women and girls, who have long been subjected to racist scrutiny for failing to conform to white-centric notions of femininity. We reject the suggestion that girls and women who are cisgender benefit from the exclusion of girls and women who are transgender or intersex. State leaders who care about women’s and girls’ sports should reject these bills and instead focus on closing the gender and racial disparities in athletics opportunities and participation and on protecting student athletes from sexual abuse.,
Transgender students face disproportionately high rates of sex discrimination at school, including sexual assault and harassment or bullying because of their gender identity and gender expression. Transgender and nonbinary people of color face even deeper and broader patterns of discrimination than their White transgender peers. Bills that would exclude transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students from athletics would further deprive them of access to educational opportunities and could place them at greater risk of sexual assault., With violence — including physical and sexual assaults and murders — against transgender women at an epidemic level, these bills only serve to create an unsafe educational environment for transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth, while sending children the message that transgender people — and transgender and intersex girls and women in particular — are not entitled to the equal treatment, dignity, and respect they are taught other people deserve. Simply put, preventing transgender and intersex girls and women and nonbinary students from participating in school athletics is a recipe for more trauma, bullying, and violence.
Transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students deserve to be included in all school programming, including athletics programs, consistent with their gender identity.
Not only do these proposals harm students and limit educational opportunity, but the discrimination they mandate is illegal. Various federal courts have held that preventing trans students from accessing sex-separated education programs and facilities violates the Equal Protection Clause, Title IX, and other civil rights laws preventing sex discrimination. These sports bans will not only put transgender, nonbinary, and intersex students at risk in violation of the law, but they also put states’ federal educational funding in jeopardy as well by forcing them to violate federal civil rights laws.
Excluding transgender students from athletics is a false solution in search of a nonexistent problem. For more than a decade, state athletic associations around the country have implemented eligibility policies that ensure transgender student athletes can compete consistent with their gender identity. Those inclusive polices have benefited all students, including cisgender girls and women. There is no evidence that the participation of transgender girls and women has affected the level of play in states with inclusive policies. Furthermore, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that girls’ athletics participation has increased or stayed the same in those states that have inclusive sports policies, while girls’ athletics participation has declined in states with discriminatory policies.
All families and young people deserve access to medically necessary health care, including gender-affirming care, to promote their safety, health, and wellbeing.
State lawmakers have also sought to ban widely accepted medical care for transgender youth and to criminalize their families as well as school staff and other adults who help them access this necessary care and treat them with dignity and respect. Other laws recently proposed or enacted by some states ban transgender students from using the same school facilities as their peers; to ban discussion of their very existence from the classroom; and to force educators to punish students for coming out at school by outing them at home, even if they may be abused as a result. Because of the victimization, intense discrimination, and lack of affirming school spaces and policies transgender students experience, they face disproportionately high rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors — and bills that shut people out of gender-affirming care threaten their safety, health, and wellbeing by contributing to this stigma. Research shows that gender-affirming care provides long-term mental health benefits for transgender people, including a reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts. State leaders who care about life-saving care should reject these bills and instead ensure all families and young people can access medically necessary health care.
Transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth deserve the chance to succeed and thrive in safe and inclusive school environments like any other child.
Several states have also rushed to pass “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” laws, which ban discussion of the very existence of LGBTQI+ people, history, their lives, and their contributions. For example, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law makes it illegal, in some cases, and otherwise creates new and vague barriers to discussing LGBTQI+ topics, including the existence of transgender people., Research shows that these laws contribute to a hostile school climate. LGBTQI+ youth in states with these laws are more likely to experience harassment and assault based on their sexual orientation and gender expression than LGBTQI+ youth in states without these laws. In addition to reducing harassment, inclusive curriculum in courses such as health education is essential for LGBTQI+ youth to make informed decisions about their health and future and to avoid potential adverse health outcomes. For example, LGBTQ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming have reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide. All students deserve access to an education that affirms their own identity, as well as the opportunity to see themselves and their families reflected in their school’s curriculum.
An attack on transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth is an attack on civil rights.
We call on state policymakers to reject attacks on transgender, nonbinary, and intersex youth, to commit themselves to meaningfully advancing policies that support equal opportunity, and to reassure all students in the nation’s classrooms that they will have the chance to learn, grow, and thrive. If you have any questions, please reach out to Steven Almazán, k12 education senior program manager at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Teachers
American Humanist Association
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers
Children’s Defense Fund
COVID Survivors for Change
End Rape On Campus
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality
Human Rights First
Japanese American Citizens League
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Justice and Joy National Collaborative (fomerly National Crittenton)
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Urban League
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Safe Schools Action Network
The Advocacy Institute
The Education Trust
The Shalom Center
The Sikh Coalition
The Trevor Project
The Workers Circle
True Colors United
Union for Reform Judaism
State & Local Organizations:
ACLU of Georgia
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Avondale ACTion–An Indivisible Group
Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council
Carolina Jews for Justice
Colorado Children’s Campaign
Colorado Justice Advocacy Network
Covenant Community Church UCC
Democrats for Education Reform DC
Disability Rights Maryland
Disability Rights Michigan
Disability Rights Oregon
Disability Rights Vermont
Education Law Center-PA
Education Reform Now CT
Educators for Excellence, Los Angeles
Faith in Public Life
FL National Organization for Women
Florida Council of Churches
Florida Health Justice Project
Florida State LULAC
Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda
Greater Nashville Jewish Community Relations Committee
Greater Orlando National Organization for Women (NOW)
Hopewell City Public Schools
Illinois Migrant Council
Indiana Disability Rights
Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
Indivisible Georgia Sixth District
JCRC Jewish Federation of Nashville
JCRC of Jewish Silicon Valley
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Jewish Community Relations Council for Tucson & Southern Arizona
Jewish Community Relations Council of Broward County
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Charleston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix
Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Bay Area
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, NY
Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo
League of Education Voters
Levine Center to End Hate at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
LULAC Council 7259
Maine Parent Federation
Men Stopping Violence, Inc.
Michigan Alliance for Special Education
Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
Michigan Education Justice Coalition
New Orleans Youth Alliance
PridePilgrim Church UCC
Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates
Project Butterfly New Orleans
Rad Family, a project of North Jersey Pride
Refugee Women’s Network
Temple Beth El
The Fannie Lou Hamer Center For Change
The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass
Towards an Anti-Racist North Kingstown (TANK)
Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham
We Vote. We Win.
Women’s Law Project
Woodlawn United Methodist Church