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School Administrators Offer a Reality Check to HB 2 Fearmongering

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On Sunday, the Raleigh-based Sigmon Law Firm filed an amicus brief—i.e., testimony from people who aren't a party in a lawsuit—in the ACLU's case against North Carolina over House Bill 2. The brief—whose signatories include twenty-seven school administrators from across the country and the entire school district for Reno, Nevada—recounts administrators' experiences with transgender students and makes the case that North Carolina lawmakers' concerns aren't rooted in reality. The whole thing is worth a read, as it puts the lie to much of the fearmongering that has defined the HB 2 debate. But in case scrolling through a thirty-nine-page legal filing isn't your idea of a good time, here are five excerpts that caught our eye.

1. "It's not a big deal when you look at it from a standpoint of, we're dealing with real people, we're dealing with children. Even at the high school level we're dealing with people who have had a hard enough time as it is, and they're just looking for reasonable support from the school in a very challenging social context, or during a very difficult process, as it is for many of them." Thomas Aberli, principal of J.M. Atherton High School in Louisville, Kentucky

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2. "Our experience has been that the fears of the adults rarely play out. The students are very affirming and respectful of their classmates. Most of the reaction that I've ever encountered has been in response to people's fears, not the students' experiences. The students' experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I have yet to be called into a situation to respond to an actual incident; I've only had to respond to fears, and the fears are unfounded." —Judy Chiasson, Los Angeles Unified School District

3. "There have been no transgender students who are sexual predators, or who are 'switching gender' to peek at others. None of those irrational fears have been realized at all. I supervise our Title IX investigator, and there have been no issues with our policy there. I also supervise the general complaint process. Nothing has come through either of those two processes on this issue." — Dylan Pauly, general counsel for the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District

4. "[When transgender students] have reported worrying about whether they can use the restroom that matches their gender identity, they have said they just don't go to the bathroom at school. That can't possibly help them learn. ... We want them to know where they can use the restroom, so they can feel more like anyone else in their school and not like an outsider. ... When transgender students don't use the restroom, they're missing an opportunity to socialize with their peers. —Diana Bruce, director of health and wellness for D.C. Public Schools

5. "While [we] agree with [the ACLU] that HB 2 is contrary to the law, on a more fundamental level it is simply bad public policy, and particularly so in the educational context. All students inhabit a world—both inside and outside of school—that includes transgender people. Pretending that this is not so for the sake of entirely unfounded concerns is harmful to transgender students, to their fellow students, and to the community at large." —From the brief's conclusion

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