HOUSTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and partners released Free to Be Me: A Toolkit to Protect LGBTQIA+ Students' Rights on Thursday to ensure K-12 students across the state can learn and thrive as their true selves.
The toolkit is designed to make Texas schools safer and more affirming. The legal and practical information in the toolkit prepares students, parents, guardians, and advocates to address discrimination in school.
Being openly LGBTQIA+ in Texas is not easy. Numerous LGBTQIA+ students in the state have faced bullying and harassment relating to their gender identity or sexual orientation. School districts have punished LGBTQIA+ students for not conforming to discriminatory dress codes based on outdated gender stereotypes. Additionally, Gov. Greg Abbott is prioritizing legislation that would ban transgender students from playing sports during the third special legislative session that begins September 20.
The 23-page toolkit is available online and in print and contains:
- Explanations of the rights that LGBTQIA+ students have in Texas regarding bullying and harassment, names and pronouns, dress codes, access to facilities, sports, free speech, and more.
- A step-by-step guide for how students, parents, and guardians can take action to protect their rights in Texas schools.
- A resource list with organizations and groups that LGBTQIA+ students and those who support them can reach out to for assistance.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe and valued — especially at school. But the start of a new school year can be a challenging time for LGBTQIA+ students,” says Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. “We’ve already received a disturbingly high number of reports of bullying and harassment this school year. As Texas lawmakers continue to attack trans youth, we created this toolkit to inform LGBTQIA+ students and advocates of their constitutional rights. No school or lawmaker can take those away.”
The toolkit is a collaboration between the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, Lambda Legal, and the Transgender Education Network of Texas. It is hosted on the Resources for Transgender Youth in Texas website.