High school can be such a trying and stressful time for young people. There's so much to deal with, from more rigorous academic standards to peer relations and the infiltration of social media on a large scale. Even for kids with the best support system and living situation, it can be a struggle. And we know that many, many students face additional struggles, including unstable home environments and poverty. Identifying the most vulnerable populations among high school students is important, so programs can be developed and policies put into place that support those students.
Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts out their Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) report, which studies health behaviors and experiences among high school students in America. But for the first time in 2017, the report included data on gender identity, giving us some valuable and much-needed information about an extremely underrepresented and vulnerable segment of the student population.
131,901 students from 10 states and nine large urban school districts across the country participated in the anonymous survey. They were asked to self-identify as either cisgender, or transgender. They were also able to select a different answer if they didn't yet know how they identified, or didn't understand the question. According to the report, approximately 2% of high school students identify as transgender. This data is so important given the challenges trans youth face. The survey found that 27% of trans students feel unsafe at school, and 35% are bullied by other students. Furthermore, 35% of trans students attempt suicide, which is a sad glimpse at the reality these kids face every single day.
The report provides a lot of insight into the transgender population in our high schools, and the CDC advises schools to focus on creating a safe and supportive environment. This can be through anti-bullying campaigns and policies, training staff, and adopting an inclusive and welcoming mentality for all students.
It's heartbreaking how many times the most vulnerable among us are failed at every turn, and the effects of those failures can be life-altering. Trans kids need support and resources, and we all need to work harder at minimizing the suffering they experience at school.