This past month, countless Marylanders expressed opposition to a proposed ban on trans kids from school sports. We showed elected officials that all trans kids, especially trans girls, deserve inclusion in sports. We celebrate the swift blocking of this bill by legislators. However, we need to recognize that our work is far from done. We need to take proactive measures today to support trans kids across Maryland. This means passing the Inclusive Schools Act, (SB 666 / HB 850), to prevent local governments, school boards, and districts from banning trans kids from sports. The Inclusive Schools Act would require publicly-funded schools to adopt and maintain an easily accessible non-discrimination policy. This policy would allow students and their families to know their rights and hold schools accountable for discrimination. Students and their families will feel safer and more included in schools. It ensures that discriminatory policies, like a trans sports ban, will not happen in Maryland schools.
Without a clearly established non-discrimination policy, students and their families remain vulnerable to discrimination without a straightforward process to address complaints. For example, one national survey found that half of the LGBTQ+ students who experience discrimination in schools never report the incident. Only 34% of students who report incidents said it resulted in staff intervention. Further, data from the survey also revealed that 87% of LGBTQ+ students had heard homophobic remarks specifically from teachers or staff. Of the 56% of students who reported the incident, 60% were told to ignore it or were ultimately not helped by school personnel. This lack of action contributes to hostile school climates, hindering historically marginalized students’ ability to excel in schools.
Adopting anti-discrimination policies can decrease or prevent discrimination in school. At schools with specific non-discrimination policies, LGBTQ+ students report experiencing less bullying and greater safety. In addition, safe and inclusive school environments demonstrate higher academic achievement in Black and Latine students, decreased truancy among first- and second-generation immigrant children, and higher test scores in disabled students. Implementing anti-discrimination policies prevents the creation of future discriminatory policies. When students and families understand their rights, bullying decreases. Students traditionally excluded from school will begin to feel safe and protected. All Maryland students deserve the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that is free of discrimination.
The hearing for this bill is scheduled in person at Maryland’s Senate on March 10th at 1:00 pm. Sign-up for written or oral testimony is due by 9:00 AM EST on March 10th. We urge you to sign-up for or submit testimony and call your senators to demand they vote in favor of this bill. The young people of Maryland are counting on us to make a difference, and we can make the change students need by helping pass the Inclusive Schools Act.
**contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to get involved**
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