Last week, we learned the Federal government reversed guidance that protects the rights of transgender students in schools across the United States.
This decision will negatively affect an already-struggling community. According to the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than half of transgender, school-age children reported some sort of mistreatment or harassment. This mistreatment and harassment continues long into adulthood. Transgender people are three times more likely than others in the U.S. to be unemployed, and experience a suicide rate of 40 percent—nine times above the U.S. average. The #TransH4ckSurvey, which is collecting data specific to transgender people in tech, also reports more than half those who responded are receiving mental health support.
Studies have shown stress makes it harder for kids to focus and succeed in school. Today’s student body is tomorrow’s workforce, and to ensure that workforce is strong and vital, every child needs the opportunity to learn in safe, non-stressful environments. To achieve a truly diverse tech workforce, we need to ensure every effort is made to support all students, not make it more difficult for them.
The Anita Borg Institute celebrates diversity and believes strongly in a community open to everyone. In fact, our code of conduct for the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing expresses that commitment and demands it of everyone who participates, whether they’re an attendee, speaker, vendor, or sponsor.
What’s more, we demand this commitment all year long from the organizations with which we work, as well as from our government. Each of us, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, age, and religion, deserves safe and supportive work environments. But even before we get to work, we deserve equally safe learning environments, ones in which each child is protected and, therefore, able to thrive and succeed.