‘Safe Schools For All’ launches to help students take action against bullying

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A coalition of LGBTQ organizations have created “Safe Schools for All,” a resource to help make schools safe and inclusive of all students

The organizations said the resource is rooted in guidance from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. 

GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)GLSEN, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and PFLAG National collaborated to create SafeSchoolsForAll.org

According to GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey, 86% of LGBTQ students experienced harassment or assault based on their sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity. Of that majority, 57% of students did not report the incident to school staff because of doubt that effective intervention would occur or fear the situation would only worsen once reported.

“Study after study has shown that bullying and harassment in schools has long-lasting and dangerous repercussions for the mental health and well-being of students – particularly LGBTQI+ youth,” said NCLR Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon. By working with our partners to create the ‘Safe Schools for All’ resource website, it is our hope that we can work with administrators, teachers, staff, students and their families to create learning environments that are free of harassment and discrimination, and promote the personal safety of every student in every school in the United States.”

“Bullying has overwhelmingly negative effects on a student’s educational outcome and mental health,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Interim Executive Director of GLSEN. “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. With positive support and resources like ‘Safe Schools for All’ available, our goal is for all LGBTQI+ students to have a thriving educational experience while feeling safe sharing their identity without judgment or harassment.”

Illinois has seen an increase in anti-LGBTQ incidents at schools, both in classrooms and school board meetings.

“When adults act badly by bullying school board officials and staff, kids take note and continue the behavior in the classroom. This is a trend PFLAG families across the country have been working to end,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National. “Until LGBTQI+ people are fully protected from discrimination by federal law, resources like ‘Safe Schools for All’ are necessary and useful tools to protect our LGBTQI+ loved ones.” 

Steps students can take when they experience bullying, harassment, or discrimination include:

  • Notify a teacher or school leader. File a formal complaint with the school, school district, college, or university.
  • Document the incident. Write down the details about what happened, where and when the incident happened, who was involved, and the names of any witnesses.
  • Ask for support. Seek support from your school to accomodate for language and disability accessibility needs including translating or interpreting information. Counseling and other mental health support can be helpful for a student who has been harassed or bullied. 
  • Consider filing a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.