Advancement Project is proud of our partnership with the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and joins them in honoring #SpiritDay, a campaign to raise awareness of LGBTQ youth who are victims of bullying. Especially in the light of recent tragic events, it is important that we evaluate how communities, schools, and youth respond to bullying in order to create safe and healthy schools for all youth. Last year we published a report with GSA Network and Alliance for Educational Justice to address this issue: “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying”.
With our partners we outlined action steps for various stakeholders. Below are the recommendations for schools and school districts. In our report you can find further recommendations for state and national stakeholders.
- Convene a working group of stakeholders within the community – including parents, teachers, principals, and other community members – to develop and implement policies and practices that address bullying and overuse of zero tolerance policies, and create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth
- Reallocate funding dedicated to school police, security officers, metal detectors, and surveillance cameras toward more guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses who are available to address students’ academic, behavioral, and mental health needs
- Implement alternative practices, such as restorative justice and social emotional learning in all schools
- Implement district-wide training for all school administrators, teachers, police and security officers, school staff, and expulsion hearing officers on classroom management, challenges facing youth of color, challenges facing LGBTQ youth, and alternative conflict resolution methods
- Implement an accountability structure under which school officials are held responsible for reducing disciplinary actions that take away learning time and disparities affecting students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities
- Clarify roles and responsibilities of law enforcement in school through a memorandum of understanding that limits school-based arrests and justice system referrals to conduct that poses a serious, ongoing threat to the safety of students or staff
- Create a public reporting system for school discipline data to track program progress, including referrals to law enforcement and school-based arrests, disaggregated by offense, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, grade, race/ethnicity, disability, school, teacher/school staff, and disposition