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San Francisco Unified School District Hailed as Model in Supporting the Dignity of Transgender Students
Posted on May 27, 2016
Transform California Brings San Franciscans Together – Calling on all California Schools to Create a Safe and Respectful Environment for Transgender Students

San Francisco, CA – On the heels of the Obama administration’s guidance for schools, the Transform California campaign today joined San Francisco Unified School District officials, local transgender youth and civil rights leaders at Mission High School – calling on all California schools to follow the lead of the San Francisco Unified School District in promoting dignity, safety and respect for transgender students. Transform California – a statewide campaign founded by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center –was recently launched to promote respect, understanding and safety for the transgender community.

“Mission High School was one of the first places in my life where I could just be me – it’s hard to explain what a great feeling that is. Our school has a long history of being known as a place where gay, lesbian and bisexual students are safe and supported – and now it is becoming known as a space where transgender and gender nonconforming students can be our true selves, too,” said Rexy Amaral, a recent graduate of Mission High and an advocate for transgender and gender nonconforming youth. “Everyone is safe at Mission High School, safe to be themselves, safe to be happy, safe to learn. That should be the goal of all of our schools.”

“Our school district was excited when the Department of Justice and Department of Education issued guidance for schools on the rights of transgender students. However, this guidance doesn’t change anything in San Francisco, since we’ve been gladly supporting students of all gender identities for many years,” said Commissioner Matt Haney, President of SFUSD Board of Education. “We find students learn better when they feel safe and accepted, and we are more than glad to show schools throughout the nation how it’s done.”

“Transgender youth should have a fair chance to go to school with their friends without being singled out and made to feel different from all other students,” said Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center Executive Director. “At a time in this country where some elected officials are trying to target transgender young people for discrimination and harassment, SFUSD is setting a great model for how districts can support and meet the needs of all students.”

At the celebration, press conference participants called on state leaders and school districts to sign the Transform California pledge and show California’s dedication to ending discrimination towards transgender people, including youth and students. Transform California is building a coalition of Californians committed to promote respect, understanding and safety for the transgender community, and working to end violence against transgender people. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%).”

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senator Ricardo Lara, Assemblymember Susan Eggman, Assemblymember Evan Low, Senator Jerry Hill, Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins, Assemblymember David Chiu, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia have also signed the pledge and are working to encourage safety and respect towards the transgender community. 

Transform California first launched the coalition in Los Angeles with San Francisco serving as the third stop of regional rallies throughout the state, all of which will be attended by organizations and individuals from vastly different landscapes, including civil rights organizations, businesses, faith-based leaders and local and state elected officials, among many others. While varied in background, the mission of every Transform California coalition member is the same: promote respect, understanding and safety for the transgender community, and oppose discrimination of all kinds. 

For more information on Transform California or to sign the coalition pledge and join the campaign, visit www.TransformCalifornia.com.

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