School & District Management

Educators Conflicted on LGBT Issues, Survey Shows

By Alyson Klein — December 12, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Transgender students make up a relatively small slice of the student population. But so-called “bathroom bills” involving their rights to access facilities have led to some heated discussions in schools.

Educators surveyed by the Education Week Research Center were essentially evenly divided on the issue of transgender students and restrooms.

Forty-nine percent thought they should use the restroom corresponding to the gender of their birth.

“Because I’m a conservative, to me it’s common sense,” said Jason Tackett, a teacher at Herald Whitaker Middle School in Kentucky’s Magoffin County. “If you have a boy body part, you should use the boy bathroom.”

But 51 percent agreed that transgender students should use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

Political-Survey-LGBT

Anna Bertucci, the associate head of school at Oakwood Friends School, a Quaker boarding school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said the restroom issue isn’t as important as some other issues that transgender students wrestle with.

“We worry about the bathroom because we’re so worried about genitalia,” Bertucci said. Schools should let children use the restroom of their gender identity, she said, but also “we should be looking at depression and suicide rates of transgender students.”

Transgender students make up less than 1 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.

Identifying Themselves to Students

About This Survey

The Education Week Research Center surveyed a nationally representative sample of teachers, school-based leaders, and district leaders about their politics and views on a wide range of K-12 issues. The 38-question survey was administered in September and October to 1,122 educators including 555 teachers, 266 school leaders, 202 district leaders, and 99 other school or district employees. The margin of error for the survey overall was plus or minus 5 percent. Followup interviews involved survey respondents who agreed to be contacted after the survey and were willing to be quoted on a range of subjects.

More Survey Findings:

  • Survey Paints Political Portrait of America’s K-12 Educators
  • Many Educators Skeptical of School Choice, Including Conservatives, Survey Shows
  • Do Teachers Political Views Align With Their Unions?
  • Survey Shows Educators Struggle With Impact of Immigration

Read the full report.

There was more agreement on another issue: whether LGBT teachers should be allowed to be “out” to their students. Forty-seven percent of educators surveyed said such teachers should be allowed to share their sexual preference with their students. Only 10 percent completed opposed that, and another 8 percent “somewhat” opposed.

Bertucci was emphatic that teachers should be able to share those details with their students.

“I feel like that’s a part of their identity as a human being,” she said. “They shouldn’t have to hide a part of their social identity because it might offend someone.”

And James Frank, the principal of Crest Ridge High School in Centerview, Mo., said educators can mention same-sex partners to their students if that’s something they’re comfortable with and it is handled appropriately.

“I’ve had gay and lesbian teachers who have been out to their students and others who felt like they couldn’t come out to their students,” he said. “We expect teachers to be professional.”

But Laura Hansen, a reading specialist in Hampstead, N.H., said she isn’t sure that school is an appropriate place for conversations about sexual identity of any kind.

“I don’t think our sexuality is any of students’ business. Straight or gay,” she said.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
Professional Wellness Strategies to Enhance Student Learning and Live Your Best Life
Reduce educator burnout with research-affirmed daily routines and strategies that enhance achievement of educators and students alike. 
Content provided by Solution Tree
English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion You're an Educator. What Can You Stop Doing This Year?
Teachers and education leaders often feel stretched for time. Here are 9 ways to rethink your schedule.
5 min read
CartoonStock 543822 CS458303
Cartoon Stock
School & District Management Top Tips for New Assistant Principals From Those Who've Been There
Nurture relationships, learn on the job, take care of yourself—and other key advice.
5 min read
Image of leaders as a central figures to a variety of activities in motion.
Laura Baker/Education Week and gobyg/DigitalVision Vectors
School & District Management L.A. Cracks Down on Homeless Encampments Near Schools, Over the Jeers of Protesters
Under the new restrictions, homeless people would be prohibited from setting up tents within 500 feet of every public and private school.
David Zahniser and Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times
5 min read
A homeless camp in downtown Los Angeles pictured on Sept. 17, 2019. A proposal to greatly restrict where homeless people may camp in Los Angeles drew protest at a City Council meeting from demonstrators who fear the rules would criminalize homelessness.
A homeless camp in downtown Los Angeles. A proposal to greatly restrict where homeless people may camp in Los Angeles drew protest at a City Council meeting from demonstrators who fear the rules would criminalize homelessness.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
School & District Management Statistics Update: New Trends in Enrollment, Virtual Schooling, and Special Education
New data in EdWeek's statistics pages point to changes in where students are attending school and the services they're getting.
Conceptual image of allocation.
Lea Toews/iStock/Getty