Standing Against Transphobia: On School Boards & in the State Houses

The entire LGBTQ community has faced two years of unprecedented legislative attacks, the majority of which have focused on trans people. Transphobes have placed a particular target on trans students in public schools. And right now, only eight people in the U.S. that serve on school boards identify as trans or nonbinary, showcasing a drastic lack of representation. Without proper representation, trans people’s existence is under threat from exclusionary politicians and alt-right bigots.

The harmful narrative surrounding the trans community reignited with “bathroom bills” banning trans kids from using the bathroom of their choice and has evolved into banning trans kids from school sports or banning gender-affirming healthcare. Many state legislatures have been working to ban trans students from playing on sports teams, exacerbating a nonexistent problem into a firestorm of online and in-person fury. Now, the discourse perpetuated by extremists is that men purposefully change their gender to merely win in competitive sports, completely erasing the legitimacy of the trans community.

On the flipside, this rise in hate speech was the reason so many LGBTQ school board members chose to run for office. LGBTQ Victory Institute conducted a survey of out LGBTQ school board members across the United States (read the full report here) and 62% of respondents stated that their primary motivation to run was to support LGBTQ students. Karl Frisch, a school board member in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a prime example of an LGBTQ school board member fighting for equality and for student safety.

Fortunately, there are out trans state officials around the country who use their platform every day to call out anti-trans legislators. Delaware state Senator Sarah McBride, who made history as the first out trans state Senator elected in U.S. history, doubled down against anti-trans legislators banning trans students from school sports.

Kansas state Representative Stephanie Byers speaks out against bigotry that trans youth face in states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Kansas while  some of her coworkers in the legislature making transphobic comments and spreading hate. So many trans legislators are working twice as hard to secure equality for all LGBTQ community members but especially trans kids who are vulnerable in this political climate.

It’s more important than ever to pay attention to state legislative and school board actions. For years, anti-LGBTQ conservatives have perfected their damaging anti-LGBTQ parental rights rhetoric in school board races to shove anti-equality policymakers in positions of power and spread baseless homophobic dog whistles. This issue is not going to magically disappear. Around 51% of respondents to the LGBTQ school board survey mentioned earlier said that they had been the target of anti-LGBTQ verbal attacks during their tenure and that number is inevitably bound to rise. Even though LGBTQ acceptance is at an all-time high, LGBTQ bigotry and prejudice skyrocketed since it is now accepted as legitimate political discourse.

Trans people do not exist to win in sports competitions or to terrorize people in bathrooms. Trans people deserve to live safe, happy lives and do not deserve to be used as political scare tactics. So when trans rights are stripped at the hands of right-wing, anti-equality bigots, you bet you will see trans people once again protesting in the streets, showing up to the ballot box and leading the charge to stop these horrific bills. But change is up to all of us – and we have to show up for them as well.

To learn more about our trans, NB or GNC elected officials, check out the Out for America map here.


Current Events, Elected Officials