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Findings show that violence causes transgender students to be more likely to experience severe health risks than cisgender peers 

New York, NY — A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using data collected in 2017, reveals that almost 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender, and more than one-third attempted suicide one or more times over the 12-month period surveyed. These data confirm what transgender and gender non-conforming young people experience on a regular basis. We must do better — and one way to do so is through sex education that addresses the identities and experiences of all young people.

The disparities these data highlight can be addressed by sex education. Sex education helps all people to understand the fluidity of gender identity and expression, and helps members of our society be more supportive of transgender youth,” said Dr. Sara C. Flowers, vice president of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Sex education programs that are inclusive of transgender and gender-nonconforming identities help caring adults and young people reduce violence and bullying that make schools and communities unsafe and unhealthy for transgender youth. 

For the first time ever, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health asked respondents if they identified as transgender. Almost 2 percent of high school students responded that they do. The survey found that: 

  • 24% of transgender students have been threatened or injured with a weapon at school.
  • 27% of transgender students feel unsafe at or going to or from school.
  • 35% of transgender students are bullied at school.

These high levels of reported violence and bullying can drive transgender and gender nonconforming young people’s vulnerabilities to substance abuse, as well as contribute to high rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts — as more than one-third of transgender students report attempting suicide in the 12 month period surveyed. We must do better for young people.

Sex education that overlooks transgender and gender-nonconforming students, or worse, stigmatizes and stereotypes them, contributes to unsafe school environments that can put youth at risk. Sex education that affirms and includes all identities is vital to helping all young people stay safe and healthy.  

“From an early age, sex education teaches youth how to be respectful of all people, helps them understand that gender identities and sexual orientations are fluid, and fosters skills around bodily autonomy and consent,” said Dr. Flowers. “These lessons lay a foundation for all youth — cisgender and transgender — to form safe, healthy relationships and become respectful, understanding community members throughout their lives.”

As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood works in communities across the country to provide sex education, outreach, and training to 1.5 million people of all ages and identities each year. Online and in person, Planned Parenthood provides people with age-appropriate, medically accurate information and answers to their questions — without shame or judgement.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.