Step Toward Ending School-to-Prison Pipeline
Departments of Education and Justice Release Guidelines; LGBT Youth Not Specifically Mentioned
Director of Communications
NEW YORK, Jan. 8, 2014 – The Department of Education and Department of Justice today released groundbreaking federal guidance to assist schools in making their disciplinary practices, which research shows disproportionately impacts youth of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, less discriminatory while encouraging positive interventions over student push-out or removal.
The guidelines, however, do not specifically reference LGBT youth. Last year GLSEN met with the Departments to urge them to include LGBT-specific language to address the particular challenges LGBT youth face. Still, even without references to LGBT youth, the guidelines represent a huge step forward in GLSEN and our partners’ efforts to end the school-to-prison pipeline and ensure that all students are treated equally and fairly in all disciplinary situations.
“Ending discriminatory practices in school discipline is one of the most critical civil rights issues facing K-12 education today,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “GLSEN commends the Departments of Education and Justice for these long-overdue guidelines that will help to erode decades of policies that have robbed countless youth of a chance to get an education and forced many of them out of school or into the criminal justice system.
“While the omission of the specific challenges facing LGBT youth is disappointing, we are pleased that the guidelines focus on prevention and intervention strategies by supporting developmentally appropriate and proportional responses to school discipline that encourage and reinforce positive school climate. The guidelines also give clear alternatives to the flawed zero-tolerance policies that have plagued many districts and led to high levels of discipline disparities. We encourage the Departments to examine the extent and effects of discipline disparities among LGBT youth and to provide leadership and guidance to ensure that school discipline practices do not discriminate on basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
The development and release of the federal guidance is the result a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative—between the Department of Education and Department of Justice and the School Discipline Consensus Project managed by the Council of State Governments. GLSEN is a member of the Council of State Governments' stakeholder task force working on the Discipline Consensus Project.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.