BBBS of Washtenaw County (BBBSWC) wishes to affirm its stance that transgender rights are human rights, and that trans youth deserve the same protection, empowerment, and legal treatment as all other youth. We believe that all children, regardless of their race, their gender, how much money they have, or who they love, deserve equal protection and treatment under the law. BBBSWC considers child safety and empowerment to be paramount. The recent actions taken against LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning) individuals, specifically targeting trans families, cannot go unacknowledged. We at BBBSWC believe that the recent actions taken across the country by legislatures targeting LGBTQ people are harmful to children and families based on our work, our research, and scientific consensus. A few of the recent policies are as follows:
Gov Greg Abbott recently wrote an executive directive to Texas professionals calling on them to report friends, families, and community members supporting trans children to the police, labeling trans-affirming families as engaging in “child abuse” with no scientific or legal evidence. In fact, all scientific evidence supports the contrary – affirming trans and LGBTQ children provides the best outcomes as they grow up in terms of health, school performance, emotional wellness, and social/community engagement.
Gov Rick DeSantis supported and passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida, which forbids the discussion of the LGBTQ community within public classrooms grades K-3. Amendments to the bill encourage school professionals to out LGBTQ children to potentially hostile/homophobic family members without consent, again based on no scientific or legal evidence. And again, all scientific evidence supports the contrary – educating children on identity, accurate history, and accurate/age-appropriate sexual education as they grow up provides the best outcomes. Additionally, sexual education is already banned for those age groups – the bill specifically targets children with LGBTQ family members, forbidding them from discussing their families in school.
In Michigan, Bill SB0218 is currently in review, which would require high school staff to confirm whether or not a child is the correct “biological sex” to participate in a given gendered sport. This careless bill does not designate a standard or safety practice around this – it calls for untrained staff to access and assess a child’s private anatomy. Again, all scientific evidence supports the contrary – a human being who has transitioned or is transitioning to another gender has no athletic advantage over their cisgender competition, especially in high school when all children are developing at different paces.
In total, over a dozen states have proposed or passed bills specifically targeting trans children. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union track these harmful and invasive policies – for more information, please follow the link above.
Current research and data from social work practice, including BBBS’s own work into addressing LGBTQ+ inclusion in our programs, shows time and time again that these types of policies and beliefs contribute to higher suicide rates in LGBTQ+ kids, higher rates of youth homelessness in LGBTQ+ kids, and overall worse outcomes for LGBTQ+ kids. We cannot in good faith allow these policies to continue unaddressed, and unchallenged. When you tell trans children that there’s something wrong with them, that they aren’t deserving of fair treatment and may even be arrested by the state government – they don’t suddenly stop being trans. They grow up to face higher rates of mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and even PTSD, linked to familial and community abuse. They grow up to face higher suicide rates and rates of homelessness, as these policies not only prevent trans kids from flourishing, but they prevent trans adults from accessing public resources and supports. These policies create disparity, inequality, and above all harm families and children. BBBS of Washtenaw County is a safe place for children and families of all identities. As we let our participants know during enrollment: we do not discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, or class. We believe that allchildren deserve to have their potential defended, ignited, and supported as they navigate a world that may not treat them with the respect they deserve. If you are experiencing any type of discrimination, whether it be transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, or religious intolerance, BBBSWC stands with you. We’re dedicated to creating environments and communities that empower and support all children, and that includes those who may be persecuted based on natural, implicit parts of who they are. If you or someone you know is struggling, consider contacting one of the support lines on our JEDI page.
With love, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County