GSCA Position Statement: Transgender Exclusion
This position statement was developed in opposition to SB 435, SB 266, HB 276, HB 372, and HB 401 which were introduced during the 2022 legislative session.
The Georgia School Counselor Association supports school counselors in Georgia as they promote student success. School counselors demonstrate their belief and their ethical responsibility that all students have the ability to learn by advocating for an education system that provides optimal learning environments for all students (ASCA 2016).
The Georgia School Counselor Association believes that all students have the right to:
- be respected, be treated with dignity, and have access to a comprehensive school counseling program that advocates for and affirms all students from diverse populations.
- receive the information and support needed to move toward self-determination, self-development, and affirmation within one’s group identities. Special care is given to improve overall educational outcomes for students who have been historically underserved in educational services (ASCA, 2016).
School counselors work to ensure students feel accepted and valued, and learn skills to prepare them for the future of contributing in a diverse society, just as their students’ parents/guardians do. Legislation and policies proposing the exclusion of transgender youth from sports teams and other support services in Georgia schools, would hinder the self-determination and development of transgender and non-binary youth. It would create a less-safe and unwelcoming atmosphere for all students by demonstrating that not all students will have equitable access and opportunities in our school buildings.
What we do know about transgender and non-binary youth in schools:
- Just as with cisgender athletes, transgender athletes vary in athletic ability. Transgender athletes do not have a set advantage over cisgender athletes.
- Excluding transgender and non-binary athletes creates an environment that invites policing of gender for all athletes.
- “Transgender athletes are allowed to compete on teams at NCAA member collegiates and universities consistent with their gender identity like all other athletes without a disruption to the sport,” Helen Carroll, coach.
- Excluding transgender students causes detrimental effects to students’ wellbeing and mental health contributing to an already alarming rate of suicidal attempts in the transgender youth community (ACLU 2022). Data has shown that LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide (The Trevor Project, 2021).
Legislation and policies proposing the exclusion of transgender athletes from competition in sports aligned with their gender identity in Georgia and exclude transgender and non-binary students from gender affirming supports, are contradictory to evidenced best practices of what creates a supportive, welcoming, and safe school community for all students, including our most vulnerable student populations, transgender and non-binary students.
School counselors will continue to champion for safe and affirming educational settings for all students by opposing transgender and non-binary student exclusion within schools on the grounds that it is contrary to professional ethical standards of school counselors, harmful to the emotional wellbeing and prosocial development of students, and detrimental to the academic success and postsecondary readiness of all students.