More than forty organizations serving or advocating for transgender youth are calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to establish a task force to address trends of increasing threats to the safety of transgender and gender diverse students, and rising levels self-harm among this population.
In a letter published in the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Dave Edwards of Transforming Families, a group for families with transgender and gender-creative youth, called on Dayton to convene a task force:
Our members have been on the front lines advocating for our youth across the state for many years. For families who have experienced vocal and often hostile opposition toward gender inclusive policies and practices in public schools, Minnesota Department of Education’s statement of support last spring was cause to be optimistic about the future. However, on Nov. 1, our optimism turned to panic when MDE made data from the new Minnesota Student Survey publicly available. New questions on the 2016 survey made it possible to assess the school experiences of ninth- and 11th-grade students who identify as transgender or a gender minority. The results for this demographic were worse than we could have imagined.
These students, according to the MSS, were three times more likely to report feeling unsafe at school, four times more likely to experience bullying, and five times more likely to have attempted suicide.
“The MSS data provide evidence that our worst nightmare is the current reality for students in Minnesota,” Edwards wrote.
A coalition of more than forty organizations is backing the call for Gov. Dayton to convene a task force. Those organizations include OutFront Minnesota, the ACLU of Minnesota, the National Center for Transgender Equality, 180 Degrees, AMAZE, Bisexual Organizing Project, The Bridge for Youth, Educators 4 Excellence Minnesota, The Family Tree Clinic, Full Spectrum Student Alliance – Winona State University, Gender Inclusive Schools, Gender Justice, Gender and Sexual Diversity Parent Advisory Council – Saint Paul Public Schools, GLSEN, HRC Twin Cities, The Link, Lansing Association for Human Rights, MOASH – Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ, MN School Pride GSA Network, Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, MN Two-Spirit Society, MN Q Youth, The Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance, OutFront MN, National Center for Transgender Equality, Out4Good – Minneapolis Public Schools, PFLAG Twin Cities, Queer & Straight Student Organization – Century College, Queer Issues Committee – University of MN Morris, Queer Pride Alliance – Augsburg College, Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Senior Rabbi, Shir Tikvah, Rainbow Health Initiative, RECLAIM, Stand with Trans, Stonewall DFL Caucus, Tate Topa Consulting, and Trans United Fund.