Online Program

Comparing Transgender Students Attending Public and Private Schools in Massachusetts: Implications of Policy and Health Differences

Monday, November 2, 2015

Emilia Dunham, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Jaclyn White, MPH, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Sari Reisner, ScD, Epidemiology/ The Fenway Institute, Harvard School of Public Health/ Fenway Health, Boston, MA

Background: In 2012, Massachusetts enacted a law expanding education non-discrimination policies to include gender identity; however, it is unclear whether these policies have been implemented or enforced. Research has yet to examine the potential for these policies to improve the wellbeing of transgender students.

Methods: In 2013, a purposive sample of transgender adults in Massachusetts completed a cross-sectional survey. The analytic sample was restricted to 121 participants attending school in Massachusetts. Descriptive analyses examined the prevalence of school policies (e.g., non-discrimination policy, equal access to bathrooms) by school type (private versus public). An age and race-adjusted logistic regression model was fit to estimate associations between school policies and past-week clinically significant depressive distress (CESD-10 score 10+).

Results: Participants’ mean age was 26; 36% attended public and 64% private school. Over half attended a school with equal access to bathrooms (61%), a non-discrimination policy that included gender identity (60%), and allowed students to use preferred names on school documents (52%). Private school students reported significantly more supportive policies than public school students (p<0.0001). In a multivariable model, attending a school without a non-discrimination policy (aOR=2.52, 95%CI=1.18-5.37) and attending a school without supportive housing policies were each independently associated with increased odds of depression (aOR=1.77, 95%CI=1.04-2.99).

Conclusion: Transgender private school students in Massachusetts have greater access to transgender supportive policies relative to public school students, and attending a school without supportive policies was associated with depressive distress. Research is warranted to identify strategies for creating supportive school environments for all transgender students.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare transgender affirming policies between public and private schools in Massachusetts. Evaluate associate between transgender affirming policies and student health. Discuss opportunities for future study addressing school environment to improve health of transgender students.

Keyword(s): Depression, Special Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the Project Manager on multiple federally funded grants focusing on the epidemiology of transender youth and adults, and LGBTQ youth. Among my scientific interests has been improving access to healthcare for transgender and sexual minority populations through evidence-based organizational and agency public policy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3308.0: Relevant LGBT Topics 2