All trans students deserve to attend schools where they feel safe in their gender identity and expression and are free to learn, play, and grow alongside their peers. That includes having an equal opportunity to participate in athletics and access locker rooms, restrooms, and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. Trans youth are valued members of our community who are deserving of inclusion, care, and celebration.
To date, Vermont has adopted robust anti-discrimination protections for transgender youth in our schools—but a bill introduced in the Vermont legislature attempts to bar transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports.
Let’s be clear: H.513 is blatant discrimination. If passed, it would be in direct conflict with the state’s existing policy, which ensures students play sports and access facilities consistent with their gender identity. It would also have devastating impacts Vermont’s LGBTQ+ community—and in particular, on queer and trans youth. This legislation joins over 450 bills restricting LGBTQ+ people’s rights that have been introduced nationwide this year alone—which include the criminalization of gender-affirming health care, censorship of discussions and books about LGBTQ+ identities in schools, banning transgender people from public restrooms, the forced outing of trans youth, and more.
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These bias-motivated attacks by politicians have fueled countless acts of discrimination targeting trans youth and continue to inflame the challenges facing trans people today. In addition to the tangible policy-related impacts of this discrimination, a survey by The Trevor Project released in January confirmed that significant harms flow directly from public debate about the dignity and humanity of transgender youth:
- 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth report that recent debates about anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health
- 45% of trans youth have experienced cyberbullying related to these debates
- Nearly 1 in 3 trans youth felt unsafe seeking medical care when they were sick or injured
- 75% of LGBTQ youth say that anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces often give them stress or anxiety
H.513’s introduction should serve as a stark reminder that Vermont is not immune from dangerous anti-trans rhetoric and policies. We have seen this vitriol unfold in recent months through transphobic messages posted on public property in Burlington, one school’s refusal to play in a basketball tournament against a team with a transgender girl in February, and the series of hateful incidents impacting Randolph last fall.
This bill’s very existence perpetuates a baseless and deeply harmful ideology that seeks to eliminate transgender people from public life. It also distracts from the very real challenges facing our communities—including the lack of affordable housing and accessible mental health care, rising substance use disorder and overdose deaths, and rampant bullying and harassment in our schools. Notably, many of these challenges disproportionately harm LGBTQ+ people, who are more likely to be economically insecure, face bullying and threats of violence, and need access to mental health care.
It’s on all of us to condemn these dangerous and bigoted attacks and affirm that the rights, dignity, and humanity of trans youth are not up for debate. We urge legislators to reject H.513, decline to take up the bill in the House Education committee, and to re-commit to advancing protections that uplift transgender people.
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