U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten hosted a roundtable on Thursday with transgender students who shared their experiences, alongside their parents, all of whom are faith leaders advocating for their children and for their communities at large. Five parents and four students, participated in the event. Joining Deputy Secretary Marten from the Department were Assistant Secretary for Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Roberto Rodriguez and Assistant Secretary for Office for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon.
At the top of the meeting, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, through video remarks, stated plainly to the children, “We in the Biden-Harris Administration see you and we support you.”
In the meeting, the Deputy Secretary reaffirmed the administration’s support for transgender students and their right to be free to learn as themselves stating, “Feeling safe is a bottom line -- they need to feel supported and seen.”
Assistant Secretary Lhamon followed up by telling the students and their parents, “Federal law is in place to protect your rights. That is the mission of our office [the Office for Civil Rights].”
When telling their stories, some students described facing bullying, misgendering, forced outing, and hateful comments from peers, teachers, and administrators. A few mentioned testifying and speaking against discriminating laws in their states.
The parents in the room shared their experience as well, all of them stating that they just want their children to live a life free from the trauma of hatred and discrimination. Some mentioned filing complaints with school officials, meeting with leaders, and contemplating moving out of the country in order to make sure their children have a more quality experience in and out of the classroom.
Both the students and their parents spoke directly to the reason they need to speak on their experiences in public spaces. They want to be supportive to their peers that may be experiencing the same situations but have no one to turn to.
In response to what the students and their parents shared Assistant Secretary Rodriguez stated, “We have your back and are so impressed that you have your friends’ backs, testifying for them and supporting them.”