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

Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

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 What the Research Says Q&A: How Can High Schools Continue to Improve Now?
The way to do it, says researcher Robert Balfanz, is to dig beneath the averages to find real solutions to schools' thorny problems.
6 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
School & District Management Opinion It Isn’t White Supremacy for Principals to Expect Staff to Be on Time
Leaders can be sensitive to families’ different rhythms and challenges without dismissing basic professional norms.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management Polls About Lessons on Racism in Schools Can Be Eye-Opening, and Misleading
Opinion surveys may help district leaders host more-productive conversations, but how they're framed can lead to wildly different results.
11 min read
Hand holding smartphone with voting app. Online voting with mini people concept flat vector illustration with smartphone screen, voting box and voters making decisions.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Pandemic-Seasoned Principals Share Hard-Earned Leadership Lessons
The COVID crisis has tested principals’ resolve to an unprecedented degree, but many have gleaned valuable takeaways from the experience.
6 min read
Boat on the water with three people inside. Leader pointing  forward. In the water around them are coronavirus pathogens.
iStock/Getty Images Plus