Students believe school needs to be a better place for genderqueer people


Robin Barnes

Students believe school needs to be a better place for genderqueer people

This article was written by a student in Intro to Mass Communications, the class that precedes The Cardinal Times.

A national survey found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. According to the survey, students that feel unsafe at school are more likely to drop out, which is detrimental to their mental health and leads to a loss of future opportunities. 

Genderqueer students say that Lincoln needs to improve in making transgender and gender-noncomforming youth feel safe and welcome. 

“On an average day [at school], I probably get misgendered (using the wrong pronouns to refer to someone), like, 10 times, which is more of a reflection on where we are on normalizing pronouns and trying to make this a regular thing,” sophomore Emerson Quarles said. 

Misgendering can be very damaging, as it can lead a person to believe that who they are is wrong. It can cause students to feel as though their gender identity isn’t valid at school. 

A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that when a transgender youth’s chosen name was used in the communities they’re part of, their chances of suicidal thoughts and ideations were reduced by more than half. 

Quarles is not alone when he voices that students should get used to being aware of and using other students’ correct pronouns.

“They should make all the teachers ask for pronouns,” sophomore Madeleine Schuckmann said. 

According to Quarles and Schuckmann, normalizing asking for preferred pronouns in school can reduce misgendering and make genderqueer students feel seen, heard and respected.

Another way to make students feel comfortable is allowing access to whichever restroom they feel comfortable using. Lincoln currently has one gender neutral restroom. 

“We need gender neutral bathrooms on all floors,” sophomore Rice said. 

Many teachers agree.

“I would love to see more gender neutral bathrooms in the new building and more respect for those spaces from students,” said AVID and math teacher Sarah Bestor. 

Students say having gender neutral bathrooms helps genderqueer students to feel recognized and comfortable.

“I really appreciate having the gender neutral bathroom. It’s the first time I’ve come to a school and had that experience. It made me feel so welcome. It felt nice that it was more than just a teacher’s bathroom or something in the office,” Quarles said. 

Genderqueer students say they want faculty and students at Lincoln to have more open discussions during school about different gender identities and how to support those who identify with them. They want to be allowed to speak up about their experiences without putting them on the spot. 

“Trans people do not need to fight for their education,” Quarles said. “Our trans-ness does not negate us from being learners.”