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More than half of Trans students in higher ed report poor mental health

Many face bullying, harassment, assault, and unfair treatment-“It’s clear universities are not doing enough for transgender students”

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Georgetown University queer students confront anti-Trans protestors (LA Blade file screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law conducted in collaboration with the Point Foundation, the nation’s largest LGBTQ scholarship fund, finds there are an estimated 218,000 known transgender students ages 18 to 40 in the U.S. of which more than half (55%) say that their mental health was not good all or most of the time while they were in higher education programs.

More than a third (39%) of transgender people experienced bullying, harassment, or assault while they were enrolled in higher education. And nearly a third (32%) of transgender people reported unfair treatment by teachers, staff, or school administrators.

Using data from the Access to Higher Education Survey, a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 to 40, researchers examined the school experiences and higher education environments of transgender people in four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and vocational-technical schools.

Results show that transgender people (26%) were three times more likely than cisgender LGBQ people (9%) to say that lifetime adverse treatment at school impacted their academic success.

“Experiences of discrimination against transgender people are not unique to high school,” said lead author Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “They also occur in higher education settings, where they can have a profound impact on the mental health and lifelong potential of transgender students.”

“It’s clear that universities and schools are not doing enough for transgender students,” said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and CEO at Point Foundation. “When transgender people are reporting high levels of poor mental health, in part because of their mistreatment at the hands of staff or faculty, it’s time for institutions of higher education to make a change. We are advocating for schools to audit their policies to ensure the protection of LGBTQ students, to ensure LGBTQ people are being listened to and supported by funded programming and centers, among other things.”

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

Financial Support

  • More than half of transgender people had federal student loans (51%), more than cisgender LGBQ (33%) and non-LGBQ people (23%).

Belonging and Outness

  • Three out of five (59%) transgender people reported a sense of belonging at the higher education institutions they had attended.
  • One in five (21%) transgender people was “out” as LGBTQ to most or all of their teachers/faculty and program staff and 44% were out to no faculty or staff.
  • Almost a third (32%) of transgender people reported being out to no other students.

LGBTQ Inclusion

  • About half (49%) of transgender people reported that LGBTQ issues were part of the curriculum at their school.
  • 39% of transgender people reported the presence of one or more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
  • One in five (20%) transgender people reported that they were aware their school had a policy allowing students to change their gender designation on their program records and documents, while 58% did not know if their school had a policy.
  • About one-quarter of transgender students said their school had LGBTQ-competent health (23%) and counseling services (25%).

This study is part of a series of reports that analyze data from the Access to Higher Education Survey. Previous reports examined the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ students and federal student loan debt among LGBTQ people.

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Research/Study

150 people on Tennessee’s sex offender registry for HIV-related conviction

Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – At least 154 people have been placed on Tennessee’s sex offender registry (SOR) for an HIV-related conviction since 1993, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Enforcement of HIV crimes in Tennessee disproportionately affects women and Black people. Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black.

Tennessee’s two primary HIV criminalization laws—aggravated prostitution and criminal exposure—make it a felony for people living with HIV to engage in sex work or other activities, such as intimate contact, blood donation, or needle exchange, without disclosing their status. Both are considered a “violent sexual offense” and require a person convicted to register as a sex offender for life.

Examining Tennessee’s sex offender registry, researchers found that Shelby County, home to Memphis, accounts for most of the state’s HIV convictions. Shelby County makes up only 13% of Tennessee’s population and 37% of the population of people living with HIV in the state, but 64% of HIV registrants on the SOR. Moreover, while Black Tennesseans were only 17% of the state’s population and 56% of people living with HIV in the state, 75% of all HIV registrants were Black.

In Shelby County, 91% of aggravated prostitution convictions resulted from police sting operations in which no physical contact ever occurred. In addition, the case files showed that 75% of those convicted were Black women. When it came to criminal exposure case files, all of those convicted except one person were Black men.

“Tennessee’s HIV criminal laws were enacted at a time when little was known about HIV and before modern medical advances were available to treat and prevent HIV,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Tennessee’s outdated laws do not require actual transmission or the intent to transmit HIV. Moreover, the laws ignore whether the person living with HIV is in treatment and virally suppressed and therefore cannot transmit HIV.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Incarcerating people for HIV-related offenses has cost Tennessee at least $3.8 million.
  • Of the 154 people who have been placed on Tennessee’s SOR for an HIV-related conviction, 51% were convicted of aggravated prostitution, 46% were convicted of criminal exposure, and 3% were convicted of both.
  • Women account for 26% of people living with HIV in Tennessee and 4% of people on the SOR, but 46% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black people account for 17% of people living in Tennessee, 56% of those living with HIV, 27% of people on the SOR, but 75% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black women were the majority of aggravated prostitution registrants (57%), while Black men were the majority of criminal exposure registrants (64%).
  • People with an HIV-related offense are more economically vulnerable when compared to others on the state’s SOR.
    • One in five (19%) HIV registrants were homeless compared to 9% of all SOR registrants.
    • 28% of HIV registrants reported an employer address compared to about half (49%) of all SOR registrants.
  • Shelby County has one aggravated prostitution conviction for every 115 people living with HIV in the county, and Black people were 90% of all people convicted for aggravated prostitution.
    • Over 90% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County were the result of police sting operations.
    • Only 3% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County alleged any intimate contact.
    • Nearly all (95%) people arrested in Shelby County for criminal exposure were Black men, compared to 64% of people statewide.  

The Williams Institute has conducted research on HIV criminalization in numerous U.S. states.

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Research/Study

New Pew Research Center poll: Americans at odds over Trans issues 

Strong majorities favor non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors

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Texas trans activist Landon Richie speaking at Texas Capitol against trans youth sports bill (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – A new survey from a leading non-partisan research center reveals Americans have mixed views on transgender issues at a time when states are moving forward with measures against transgender youth, with strong majorities favoring non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors and participation in school sports.

The Pew Research Center issued the findings on Tuesday as part of the results of its ongoing study to better understand Americans’ views about gender identity and people who are transgender or non-binary. The findings are based on a survey of 10,188 U.S. adults from data collected as part of a larger survey conducted May 16-22.

A majority of respondents by wide margins favor non-discrimination protections for transgender people. A full 64 percent back laws or policies that would protect transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public spaces, while roughly 8-in-10 acknowledge transgender people face at least some discrimination in our society.

Additionally, nearly one half of Americans say it’s extremely important to use a transgender person’s new name after they undergo a transition, while an additional 22 percent say that is somewhat important. A smaller percentage, 34 percent, say using a transgender person’s pronouns is extremely important, and 21 percent say it is somewhat important.

But other findings were less supportive:

  • 60 percent say a person’s gender is determined by sex assigned at birth, reflecting an increase from 56 percent in 2021 and 54 percent in 2017, compared to 38 percent who say gender can be different from sex assigned at birth.
  • 54 percent say society has either gone too far or been about right in terms of acceptance, underscoring an ambivalence around transgender issues even among those who see at least some discrimination against transgender people.
  • About six-in-ten adults, or 58 precent, favor proposals that would require transgender athletes to compete on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth as opposed to teams consistent with their gender identity, compared to 17 percent who oppose that and 24 percent neither favor nor oppose it.
  • 46 percent favor making it illegal for health care professionals to provide transition-related care, such as hormones or gender reassignment surgery, to someone younger than 18, compared to 31 percent who oppose it.
  • Americans are more evenly split when it comes to making it illegal for public school districts to teach about gender identity in elementary schools (which is favored by 41 percent, and opposed by 38 percent) and investigating parents for child abuse if they help someone younger than 18 obtain transition-related care (37 percent are in favor and 36 percent oppose it).

Young adults took the lead in terms of supporting change and acceptance. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, compared to about four-in-10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about one-third of respondents 50 and older.

Predictably, stark differences could be found along party lines. Democrats by 59 precent say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender, while 15 percent say it has gone too far and 24 percent say it’s been about right. For Republicans, 10 percent say society hasn’t gone far enough, while 66 percent say it’s gone too far and 22 percent say it’s been about right.

Read the full report here.

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Research/Study

A Moms for Liberty leader threatens gun violence against librarians (Audio)

“[…] making librarians who make 85k a year answer to parents when we ask how sexually explicit books got into the library”

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Olivia Little | WASHINGTON – Leaked audio from a Moms for Liberty meeting in Lonoke County, Arkansas, reveals a member of the chapter’s leadership flippantly threatening gun violence against librarians. 

In the audio obtained by Media Matters, the chapter’s head of communications and media, Melissa “Missy” Bosch, complained about librarians in the district, saying, “I’m telling you, if I was — any mental issues, they would all be plowed down with a freaking gun by now.”

Bosch is an Arkansas-based anti-mask activist who has since redirected that energy to her new charter school and the Moms for Liberty “parental rights” campaign that advocates for the banning of books across the country and strategically harasses school officials. 

She was made aware of the recorded audio and took to Facebook falsely claiming it was “illegally recorded” and “illegally spliced.” It wasn’t — Arkansas is a one-party consent state and Media Matters has reviewed the original recording in full. 

Bosch also threatened legal action in her post, claiming to know “some fantastic lawyers,” and she said her comments came while she was talking about “making librarians who make 85k a year answer to parents when we ask how sexually explicit books got into the library.” Bosch — along with other Moms for Liberty members — advocates for banning “pornographic books” to protect children, parroting a line right-wing media often use to target books about race and LGBTQ identity.

Yet Bosch’s hypocrisy is clearly evident since she rationalizes book bans to “protect” children while also hiring a lawyer who also represented a high-profile child sex offender. Travis Story, who represented Bosch in 2021 in a lawsuit against school mask mandates, simultaneously represented former TLC star and reported “longtime friend” Josh Duggar, who has since been convicted of “receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material.” 

As right-wing media and organizations push false and misleading claims about education policies, there has been an uptick in violence against school employees across the United States. Moms for Liberty members have also previously threatened school officials, and this incident is symptomatic of the group’s toxic campaign as a whole.

Editor’s Note: Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit claiming to advocate for “parental rights,” appears to be using parents as pawns to advance a far-right agenda.  Read more here: (LINK)

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Olivia Little is a researcher at Media Matters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law and public policy from Indiana University. Olivia previously worked as a research associate for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign.

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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