More than half of transgender teachers face harassment or discrimination in the workplace, according to an NPR Ed survey of transgender and gender-nonconforming educators.
The survey of 79 trans and gender-nonconforming teachers from the U.S. and Canada found that the harassment they face ranges widely: from 20 percent who reported verbal harassment, to 17 percent who said they'd been asked to change how the present themselves, such as their clothing, to two teachers who said they'd been fired.
My Two Cents
I'm currently reading the book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, from 2012. The main reason Dan Savage gives for doing it, the main impetus, is that he realized he was giving a lot of talks at colleges, but basically the last thing any middle or high school would embrace, let alone allow, would be a gay or transgender person speaking to the student body. Neither parents nor administrators would dare consider someone not straight simply talking about the abject normalcy of their life, letting kids know that life as a gay, trans or queer person can be as amazing, average or challenging as anyone else's.
At my age, 48, it's hard to imagine such a thing taking place when I was a kid. When I was in middle and high school, where I lived, if you thought you were gay, or bi, or you weren't the right gender, probably your first thought was that you were wrong, or your whole being was wrong. You may think you should hide or deny these aspects of yourself at any cost. Maybe you should leave town, change your name, spare your family the shame and shock. Maybe you shouldn't be... at all.
That is basically the start of every story in It Gets Better, so... that is obviously why it is needed. Kids know, people know, we know who we are. We become aware of ourselves, we see the world around us, and for far too long, some of us have been taught that these normal and natural variations are actually cause for concern, shame, hatred, violence. They are not. They are nothing of the kind. No more so than any other personality trait. There is no inherent harm. There is nothing shameful, nothing wrong.
So, that's why Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, started the video series, then the book, the website—the whole project. People have died, tragically, because they felt their difference made their lives unlivable.
We need these teachers. We need diversity in teachers just like we do in business, in government, representation, the intelligence community, STEM. We need it not just for the kids who fear that their difference is an existential threat, but for others who may be the bearer of that fear or threat. The sooner everyone gets the memo, the better off we'll all be. We have real problems in life and in our world; our sexual orientation or gender identity need not be one of them.