The ACLU of Wisconsin strongly opposes a bill being circulated in the state legislature that would require local schools to forbid transgender students from using restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. By singling out transgender youth for discriminatory treatment, this bill would subject vulnerable students to further isolation and risk of harm. Transgender young people already face staggeringly high rates of harassment, assault and suicide.
The reality is that transgender students pose no risk to other students in our schools. Schools around the country – including schools right here in Wisconsin – have adopted policies that allow transgender students access to restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity with no known incidents of harassment or inappropriate behavior.
Restrooms and locker rooms can be a source of discomfort for many students, not just transgender students. Schools have an obligation to all students – including transgender students – to ensure that the school’s facilities protect privacy. If students misbehave in bathrooms or locker rooms, they can already be punished for that misbehavior. We should not allow fear of and discomfort with difference to establish policies that treat transgender students as second class citizens. This would not only be a disservice to Wisconsin communities but would open Wisconsin schools to liability under federal law, which protects the rights of transgender students to access bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.