Transgender teens with restricted bathroom access at higher risk of sexual assault

Transgender and gender-nonbinary teens face greater risk of sexual assault in schools that prevent them from using bathrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, according to a recent study.

Researchers looked at data from a survey of nearly 3,700 U.S. teens aged 13-17. The study found that 36% of transgender or gender-nonbinary students with restricted bathroom or locker room access reported being sexually assaulted in the last 12 months, according to a May 6, 2019 CNN article. Of all students surveyed, 1 out of every 4, or 25.9%, reported being a victim of sexual assault in the past year.

“Unfortunately, kids’ access to restrooms and locker rooms has become very politicized in some communities,” said Gabriel Murchison, PhD candidate in population health sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study. Murchison noted that although the study only shows an association, not whether the restrictions themselves caused the sexual assaults, “they are certainly a strong indicator of environments where kids are at risk.”

In an NBC News article, Murchison suggested that the issue can be addressed with “better supervision of lockers rooms, more privacy options (like curtained changing areas), and an effective and consistent school response to harassment.”

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