The new law will create safer schools for transgender students in the state
GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, and the GLSEN Washington State Chapter today celebrated the signing of Senate Bill 5689 into law by Governor Jay Inslee.
Senate Bill 5689 will help to ensure that every school district in Washington – a state which already has comprehensive anti-bullying protections – has policies and resources in place to appropriately handle harassment, intimidation, bullying, and discrimination against transgender students in public schools.
“All students deserve to feel safe at school, and today the state of Washington took a tremendous step forward in ensuring that transgender and gender nonconforming students are protected from bullying and harassment,” said Amanda Klecan, GLSEN Washington State. “We are grateful to the Legislature and Governor Inslee for their support of Senate Bill 5689, which will go a long way toward creating safer schools for LGBTQ students in Washington State. This bill is more than simply affirming words — it reflects an investment in developing policies and utilizing state resources to ensure that schools in the state are welcoming environments for transgender students.”
Transgender and gender nonconforming students in Washington State face hostile school environments and most schools currently do not have supports in place to protect them. According to GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey Washington State-level data, almost 70% of LGBTQ students reported regularly hearing negative remarks about transgender people and almost 40% of LGBTQ students regularly heard school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression. Additionally, less than a quarter of students reported that their school had a policy or official guidelines to support transgender or gender nonconforming students.
“Washington State Senate Bill 5689 is a model of what next steps and implementation can look like for states that already have comprehensive anti-bullying laws on the books,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN. “Although Washington is one of 19 states that already protect LGBTQ youth, this additional investment is what will make these laws fully effective in protecting all students.”
GLSEN’s latest policy resource, Respect for All: Policy Recommendations to Support LGBTQ Students A Guide for District and School Leaders, provides guidance and best practices around the implementation of comprehensive anti-bullying laws, including for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Washington State is one of 19 states and Washington D.C. that have already passed a comprehensive anti-bullying law, with New Mexico being the most recent.