The recent flood of anti-LGBTQ policy in states all over the U.S., specifically the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, might have you and your child worried about going back to school. You’re not alone, we’re worried too about what they might face and what the future holds.
One way to protect your child and get prepared for the fall is to educate yourself about their rights at school. This list isn’t exhaustive, so be sure to check out some of the links at the end of this article.
- Your child has the right to express their gender
- That means they can dress, use the restroom, and play sports according to their gender identity. If there aren’t options available for their gender (i.e. your child is non-binary), they have the right to talk to the school about what they need.
- Your child has the right to choose when and how to come out
- Your child’s school can’t disclose their gender identity or sexual orientation without a strong justification.
- Your child has the right to form LGBTQ student groups
- If your child’s school has other types of student clubs, the school cannot prohibit groups that are LGBTQ oriented.
- Your child has the right to wear what they’d like (within the limits of school dress code)
- The First Amendment protects freedom of expression, which includes wearing t-shirts with pride flags, for example. If your child’s school allows students to wear clothes with slogans, it’s unlawful for them to ask your child not to wear something because it expresses LGBTQ pride.
In an ideal world, all students, as well as school administrators and teachers, would be aware of these rights. The reality, however, is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there and educators are already carrying a heavy load, so the best thing we can do as parents is make sure we’re knowledgeable about these issues.
To learn more, check out the following articles:
- LGBTQ Best Practices Guide from Learning for Justice.
- Know Your Rights: Students and LGBTQ Rights at School from Southern Poverty Law Center
- LGBTQ+ Student Rights from GLSEN