A new study released Monday in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics finds that trans and nonbinary kids are more likely to experience harassment and sexual assault if they go to a school that doesn't let them use gender-affirming single-sex spaces, NBC Newsreports.
According to the study, 26% of trans and nonbinary students report having been sexually assaulted in the year prior, while 35%of trans and nonbinary kids who go to schools where they can't use sex-segregated spaces like restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity report the same. The study surveyed 3,673 trans and nonbinary middle and high school students throughout the United States.
The study's lead author, Gabriel Murchison of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, told NBC News that he does not know whether forcing trans and nonbinary students to use single-sex spaces that match up with their sex assigned at birth causes this elevated level of harassment and assault, but he does think that conditions like that "seem to be a marker for an environment where trans and nonbinary youth are at risk."
"All families want their children to feel safe at school, and many know that restrooms and locker rooms can be problem areas for bullying and harassment," he told the outlet. "With better information about the problem, families and schools can work together to address it."
Trans people lack federal nondiscrimination laws protecting their right to access public restrooms that match their gender identity, but trans students briefly had such protections on public school grounds thanks to Obama-era guidelines. The Trump administration rolled back those protections, however -- a decision that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended earlier this year.
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