Advertisement

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 39, Issue 10, pp 1175–1188 | Cite as

School Climate for Transgender Youth: A Mixed Method Investigation of Student Experiences and School Responses

  • Jenifer K. McGuire
  • Charles R. Anderson
  • Russell B. Toomey
  • Stephen T. Russell
Empirical Research

Abstract

Transgender youth experience negative school environments and may not benefit directly from interventions defined to support Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) youth. This study utilized a multi-method approach to consider the issues that transgender students encounter in school environments. Using data from two studies, survey data (total n = 2260, 68 transgender youth) from study 1 and focus groups (n = 35) from study 2, we examine transgender youth’s experience of school harassment, school strategies implemented to reduce harassment, the protective role of supportive school personnel, and individual responses to harassment, including dropping out and changing schools. In both studies, we found that school harassment due to transgender identity was pervasive, and this harassment was negatively associated with feelings of safety. When schools took action to reduce harassment, students reported greater connections to school personnel. Those connections were associated with greater feelings of safety. The indirect effects of school strategies to reduce harassment on feelings of safety through connection to adults were also significant. Focus group data illuminate specific processes schools can engage in to benefit youth, and how the youth experience those interventions.

Keywords

Transgender School climate Sexual minority Harassment 

References

  1. Burgess, C. (1999). Internal and external stress factors associated with the identity development of transgendered youth. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 10(3/4), 35–47.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, L., de Ruiter, C., Ringelberg, H., & Cohen-Kettenis, P. T. (1997). Psychological functioning of adolescent transsexuals: Personality and psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53, 187–196.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. D’Augelli, A. R., Grossman, A. H., & Starks, M. T. (2006). Childhood gender atypicality, victimization, and PTSD among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 1462–1482.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. D’Augelli, A. R., Pilkington, N. W., & Hershberger, S. L. (2002). Incidence and mental health impact of sexual orientation victimization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in high school. School Psychology Quarterly, 17, 148–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Di Ceglie, D., Freedman, D., McPherson, S., & Richardson, P. (2002). Children and adolescents referred to a specialist gender identity development service: Clinical features and demographic characteristics. The International Journal of Transgenderism, 6(1), http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtvo06no01_01.htm.
  6. Fontaine, J. H. (2002). Transgender issues in counseling. In L. D. Burlew & D. Capuzzi (Eds.), Sexuality counseling (pp. 177–194). New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  7. Fraser, M. W., & Terzian, M. A. (2005). Risk and resilience in child development: Practice principles and strategies. In G. P. Mallon & P. McCartt Hess (Eds.), Handbook of children, youth, and family services: Practice, policies, and programs. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Garofalo, R., Deleon, J., Osmer, E., Doll, M., & Harper, G. W. (2006). Overlooked, misunderstood and at-risk: Exploring the lives and HIV risk of ethnic minority male-to-female transgender youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38, 230–236.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Goodenow, C., Szalacha, L. A., & Westheimer, K. (2006). School support groups, other school factors, and the safety of sexual minority adolescents. Psychology in the Schools, 43, 573–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graytak, E. A., Kosciw, J. G., & Diaz, E. M. (2009). Harsh realities: The experiences of transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  11. Grossman, A. H., & D’Augelli, A. R. (2006). Transgender youth: Invisible and vulnerable. Journal of Homosexuality, 51, 111–128.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Grossman, A. H., D’Augelli, A. R., Howell, T. J., & Hubbard, S. (2005). Parents’ reactions to transgender youths’ gender nonconforming expression and identity. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 18, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grossman, A. H., D’Augelli, A. R., & Salter, N. P. (2006). Male-to-female transgender youth: Gender expression milestones, gender atypicality, victimization, and parents’ responses. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 2, 71–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grossman, A. H., Haney, A. P., Edwards, P., Alessi, E. J., Ardon, M., & Howell, T. J. (2009). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth talk about experiencing and coping with school violence: A qualitative study. Journal of LGBT Youth, 6, 24–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Human Rights Watch. (2001). Hatred in the hallways: Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in US schools. New York: Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  16. Kosciw, J. G., & Diaz, E. M. (2005). The 2005 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.Google Scholar
  17. Kosciw, J. G., Diaz, E. M., & Greytak, E. A. (2008). 2007 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and Transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  18. Mallon, G. P., & DeCrescenzo, T. (2006). Transgender children and youth: A child welfare practice perspective. Journal of Homosexuality, 42(1), 215–241.Google Scholar
  19. McKinney, J. (2005). On the margins: A study of the experiences of transgender college students. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, 3(1), 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. O’Shaughnessy, M., Russell, S., Heck, K., Calhoun, C., & Laub, C. (2004). Safe place to learn: Consequences of harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender non-conformity and steps for making schools safer. San Francisco, CA: California Safe Schools Coalition.Google Scholar
  21. Quinn, T. L. (2002). Sexual orientation and gender identity: An administrative approach to diversity. Child Welfare Journal, 81(6), 913–928.Google Scholar
  22. Rosenberg, M. (2002). Children with gender identity issues and their parents in individual and group treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 619–623.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Russell, S. T., Franz, B. T., & Driscoll, A. K. (2001a). Same-sex romantic attraction and experiences of violence in adolescence. American Journal of Public Health, 91(6), 903–906.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Russell, S. T., & McGuire, J. K. (2008). The school climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. In M. Shinn & H. Yoshikawa (Eds.), Toward positive youth development: Transforming schools and community programs (pp. 133–149). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Russell, S. T., McGuire, J. K., Lee, S. A., & Larriva, J. C. (2008). Adolescent perceptions of school safety for students with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents. Journal of LGBT Youth, 5, 11–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Russell, S. T., Seif, H., & Truong, N. L. (2001b). School outcomes of sexual minority youth in the United States: Evidence from a national study. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 111–127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Ryan, C., & Rivers, I. (2003). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: Victimization and its correlates in the USA and UK. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 5(2), 103–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sausa, L. A. (2005). Translating research into practice: Trans youth recommendations for improving school systems. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, 3, 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenifer K. McGuire
    • 1
  • Charles R. Anderson
    • 1
  • Russell B. Toomey
    • 2
  • Stephen T. Russell
    • 2
  1. 1.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations