National equality organizations launch anti-bullying website to support LGBTQ youth and parents

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Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona, via Unsplash.

Four of the country’s leading LGBTQ organizations have launched an anti-bullying website designed to serve as a resource for students and parents to ensure schools create safe environments for LGBTQ youth.

The website, “Safe Schools for All,” is based on guidelines from the Division of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education. It contains sections for LGBTQ youth and parents on knowing their rights, how to deal with anti-LGBTQ bullying or harassment, how to approach administrators tasked with reducing harassment, and instructions on where and how to file a complaint with the education department office. for civil rights. It also contains links to other resources that students, educators and parents can use to make schools welcoming.

“Safe Schools for All” is a project of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, GLSEN, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and PFLAG National, and begins as LGBTQ youth find themselves not only targets of bullying, harassment and sometimes even physical assault. at the hands of their peers, but by broader political movements that seek to either erase evidence of LGBTQ existence or intimidate LGBTQ youth into being silent about their true identities.

Examples of such actions include, but are not limited to: efforts to ban LGBTQ content or books in classrooms or libraries, prohibit transgender children from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, deny transgender students the ability to change their name or gender on their school records or transcripts, refusal to use students ‘proper names and pronouns, and restrict LGBTQ students’ access to washrooms or locker rooms.

Advocates warn that these politically charged movements, started by adults with anti-LGBTQ views, are having a spillover effect on how LGBTQ youth are treated by their peers.

“When adults act badly by bullying school board officials and staff, children take notice and continue the behavior in the classroom. It’s a trend that PFLAG families across the country are working to stop, ”said Brian Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National, in a statement. “Until LGBTQI + people are fully protected from discrimination by federal law, resources such as ‘Safe Schools for All’ are necessary and useful tools to protect our LGBTQI + loved ones. “

According to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey 2019, 86% of LGBTQ students reported being harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. Of this majority, 57% of students did not report the incident to school staff due to doubt that school administrators would respond effectively, or were concerned that the bullying or harassment would get worse if they did. reported.

“Study after study has shown that bullying and harassment in schools has long-lasting and dangerous repercussions on the mental health and well-being of students – especially LGBTQI + youth,” Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. , said in a statement. “By working with our partners to create the Safe Schools for All resource website, we hope to be able to work with administrators, teachers, staff, students and their families to create harassment-free learning environments. and discrimination, and promote the personal safety of every student in every school in the United States.

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Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Interim Executive Director of GLSEN, noted that bullying and harassment have negative effects that go far beyond the physical injuries they may suffer or the feelings of isolation that can arise when young people feel that they have no one to turn to for support.

“We know that bullying leads to lower GPAs, increased absences and higher levels of depression, so it is imperative to show support and create safe and inclusive school environments,” Willingham-Jaggers said in a statement. communicated. “With positive support and resources such as ‘safe schools for all’ available, our goal is for all LGBTQI + students to have a thriving educational experience while feeling safe sharing their identities without judgment or harassment. “

Earlier this year, the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office issued a public notice clarifying that LGBTQ students are protected under the provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, 1972, a law federal government aimed at combating discrimination based on sex. This means that the ministry will treat cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination as a form of discrimination based on sex and will investigate allegations of such violations in any educational program or activity offered by schools that accept federal dollars.

“Schools have a responsibility to investigate allegations of gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, made by students facing hostility because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or status. transgender, ”Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, said in a statement. “It is the law. It is also an essential step in improving the school climate for all students. We hope that” safe schools for all “will be an accessible tool for both families and administrators to protect the the health, safety and well-being of all students. ”

For more information, visit www.safeschoolsforall.org.

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