Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Education Policy Center Addresses LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     In reponse to the recent LGBT-bullying-related teen suicides, the National Education Policy Center has released a document entitled "Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation."   Kudos to co-authors Stuart Biegel and Sheila James Kuehl, and also to the UCLA Williams Institute and Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, who supported the document's creation..


     The Washington Post listed these summary points from the document:
Below, I [Kevin Welner, director of NEPC] summarize the brief, but I hope readers will click through and read the whole thing. It’s available online at http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/safe-at-school.
The brief documents, among other things:
• Recurring examples of traumatic peer mistreatment, often with faculty complicity.
• The resulting harm to the academic achievement and aspirations of LGBT students.
• Lives lost, both directly through assaults and indirectly through suicide.
The brief also presents evidence of structural and institutional failures such as:
• Failure to recognize that LGBT educators can play valuable, positive roles.
• Failure to address the persistent overt homophobia in many school sports programs.
• Misuse of the special education system, which further exacerbates LGBT mistreatment.
• Minimal coverage of LGBT issues in many teacher-education and professional development programs.
The recommendations from Biegel and Kuehl include:
• Adopt proactive school climate initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to inclusive policies and shared values within our pluralistic society.
• End discriminatory disciplinary practices and the inappropriate referral of LGBT students to special education.
• Implement LGBT-specific programs or activities at individual school sites, which may include safe zones, gay-straight alliances, and suicide prevention programs.
• Develop and implement LGBT-related professional development, locally determined and agreed upon by faculty and staff, for all school-site personnel.
• Align classroom pedagogy with shared values and respect for differences.
• Include age-appropriate LGBT-related content in the curriculum.
• Involve key members of campus athletic programs in LGBT-related initiatives.
• Make it clear that homophobic comments and actions by coaches and student athletes are completely unacceptable.
• Encourage student athletes to participate in targeted programs such as initiatives addressing bullying and hate violence, as well as gay-straight alliances, safe zones, and wellness programs.

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