Sexuality Education

New CDC data shows schools are failing trans youth, reinforces need for inclusive sex ed

For Immediate Release
January 25, 2019

Contact: Zach Eisenstein
Phone: (202) 265-2405 ext 3330

(Washington, DC) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health released findings from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS) which, for the first time, asked students if they identified as transgender. The study, which polled 19 sites in ten states across the country, found that two percent of high school students identified as transgender and highlighted a number of disparities faced by transgender youth. Samantha Dercher, SIECUS’ Federal Policy Director, released the following statement in response:

“While we are thrilled that more national data on trans youth is finally being collected, findings continue to support the fact that we are failing trans young people in schools across the country.

The CDC reports that 35 percent of the trans students identified in this study have attempted suicide in the past year. Thirty-five percent report being bullied and 27 percent say that they feel unsafe going to school. Unfortunately, the disparities continue. Compared to cisgender students, trans young people are also more likely to experience sexual violence and substance abuse.

And bullying of trans youth doesn’t just happen in schools – it’s happening at the highest levels of government, too. The Trump administration has banned transgender service members, encouraged medical providers to deny treatment to trans patients, and allowed federal contractors to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against transgender people.

The administration’s hateful attitude towards transgender people coupled with the troubling findings from today’s report point to one thing that we know we need: LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in schools nationwide. All young people—regardless of gender identity or expression—deserve to see themselves reflected in the lessons that they are being taught at school.

The CDC suggests the creation of safe and supportive school environments to address the myriad disparities that trans youth experience. Comprehensive sexuality education—that affirms and includes transgender students—is a simple but vital step toward accomplishing that goal.

When we advance policies that include and protect trans youth–like comprehensive sexuality education mandates and New York’s historic transgender anti-discrimination law, GENDA–we send a clear message to trans young people that says: you belong.”


The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) has served as the national voice for sex education, sexual health, and sexual rights for over 50 years. SIECUS asserts that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one worthy of dignity and respect. We advocate for the rights of all people to accurate information, comprehensive sexuality education, and the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services. SIECUS works to create a world that ensures social justice inclusive of sexual and reproductive rights.