The week of Nov. 13 through 19 is Transgender Awareness Week (TAW). Which, ironically, could make trans people more of a target.
GLAAD describes TAW as a week when trans people and their allies take action to bring attention to the community by educating the public about who trans people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the trans community.
The Illinois State Board of Education has guidance for schools on how to support trans and non-conforming students in schools.
Both state and federal law state that trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students must be supported in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. They also have a right to full access to facilities that match their gender. This includes restrooms and locker rooms. The same with their participation in school sports.
Again, these, and inclusive education, are required under Illinois state law. If a public school refuses to do these, you can contact the state.
Questions relating to the rights of LGBTQ youth in schools can be posed to [email protected].
Organizations like GLAAD, PFLAG National and The Trevor Project all have guides on how to support trans people, including what to say and what not to say. But one theme to keep in mind is this: Listen to trans people. Listen when they say what they need help with. Listen when they need support.
Here are links to resources both nationally and in Illinois:
- Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
- Equality Illinois
- PFLAG National (will have links to the many chapters across Illinois)
- The Trevor Project
- Phoenix Center (Springfield)
- Peoria Proud
- Prairie Pride Coalition (Bloomington/Normal)
- Uniting Pride Center (Champaign/Urbana)
- Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center (Carbondale)
- Clock Inc. (Quad Cities)
- The SAGE Project (Jacksonville)
Each of the local community centers has groups for youth. Attendance at most of them is both in person and virtually.
According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. However, the same survey found that LGBTQ youth who lived in an accepting community, had access to LGBTQ-affirming spaces, or were supported by family and friends reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide.
If a trans youth you know is struggling, they can contact The Trevor Project 24 hours a day by phone (866-488-7386), text (Text ‘START’ to 678-678) or chat.