No Name-Calling Week Proclamation
WHAT IS A PROCLAMATION, AND WHY SHOULD WE SEEK ONE FOR NO NAME-CALLING WEEK?
Proclamations are powerful statements of values and priorities issued by elected and appointed government officials that raise awareness and encourage community action. They can create positive momentum towards advancing policies that support LGBTQ+ student achievement and wellbeing, such as nondiscrimination, bullying and harassment protections, and inclusive curricular standards.
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) sponsors a Congressional resolution in support of NNCW that engages Members of Congress and other education leaders across the country. Here’s a link to the resolution that was passed during the 116th Congress. GLSEN’s NNCW proclamations can be issued by governors, chief state school officers, local superintendents, state legislators, school boards, and other K-12 education leaders.
WHAT ARGUMENTS CAN I USE TO CONVINCE MY ELECTED OFFICIALS TO ISSUE A PROCLAMATION?
Words hurt. More than that, they have the power to make students feel unsafe to the point where they are no longer able to perform in school or conduct normal lives. Though often dismissed as “harmless teasing,” name-calling targets, those who do not “fit in”—due to body size, social or academic standing, race, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or some other attribute— forcing them to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to cope with the detrimental effects of name-calling when they should be devoting their energies to social and academic development instead.
Here’s a few talking points to help craft your argument before you meet with your elected official:
- Name-calling and bullying have harmful effects on students of all ages. In GLSEN’s Playgrounds and Prejudice: A Survey of Teachers and Students data shows that as early as third grade (age 8-9), bullying negatively impacts the experiences of students in elementary school.
- Elementary school students who are bullied are less likely than others to say that they have been happy at school this year (34% vs. 69%) and more likely than other students to say that they sometimes do not want to go to school because they feel afraid or unsafe there (33% vs. 8%).
- Over 60 leading education organizations like the National School Boards Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Education Association are organizational partners for No Name-Calling Week because name-calling and bullying have serious negative consequences for school climate for students across the country.
- In 2019, the National School Climate Survey revealed that almost all LGBTQ students in secondary schools (98.8%) heard “gay” used in a negative way, more than 3 in 4 LGBTQ students heard sexist remarks often or frequently at school, three-quarters of all LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about ability, and over half of all students heard their peers make racist remarks often or frequently.
- School-based resources and supports like supportive student clubs, inclusive curricular resources that reflect the experiences and backgrounds of all students, supportive school personnel, and supportive school policies like comprehensive enumerated anti-bullying protections are proven to reduce bullying and name-calling in schools.
- By supporting the goals and programs of No Name-Calling Week, your elected officials can be a part of a movement to launch a conversation about how bullying impacts all students in schools.
THE PROCESS: HOW DO I GET A PROCLAMATION?
Many state and local education officials, whether in the executive or legislative branches of government (Governor vs. state legislature) have a procedure for asking for an official proclamation. For example to request a proclamation from the Nevada Governor’s Office you would complete this form: https://gov.nv.gov/Forms/Request_a_Proclamation/
In addition to identifying any available proclamation request forms, you can contact your state or local education agency staff who are responsible for addressing school climate issues, particularly bullying and harassment, to get help passing a proclamation. Search for your state’s education department with the keyword terms “bullying and harassment prevention.” For example, the Minnesota Department of Education bullying and harassment staff contact is listed at the following address and might be able to assist in passing a proclamation: https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/safe/bprev/
To obtain additional guidance and support on passing a state and/or local NNCW proclamation contact the Public Policy Office at email@example.com.
Most offices, whether they are legislative (Congress, state legislature, school board, etc.) or executive (Governor, mayor, etc.) have a procedure for asking for an official proclamation. The ﬁrst step is learning that procedure. This is best done by either looking to see if that procedure is outlined on the official’s website or by contacting the speciﬁc office of the official that deals with constituents’ concerns. You might also leverage personal staff contacts, relationships with major supporters of the elected official, or institutional contacts to help nudge the process along.
Follow the proper steps outlined by your elected official’s office, which will require a formal request. Your formal request to your ally should contain:
- Background information on GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week
- A speciﬁc ask for a proclamation for January 18-24,2020
- Information about what’s happening in schools and communities in your area for No Name-Calling Week, including research on bullying and harassment
- How to contact YOU with questions or to get additional information
After they have had a couple days to review the request, call your contact person in the official’s office to follow-up on your “ask.” You might also ask one of your contacts with inﬂuence (like a major supporter of the elected official or a coalition partner) to emphasize the importance of issuing the proclamation.
What do we do with our proclamation once we get it?
Ideally, your elected official would agree to participate in a public ceremony announcing the proclamation, at which organizational partners, teachers, students, parents, and school officials might speak about the need for the program. Be sure the press is present if your elected official agrees to such an event! Also make sure to notify the GLSEN national office of your accomplishments. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with all of the details. If you are unsure of how to reach out to the media, get in contact with GLSEN national and we can walk you through that process or introduce you to local media contacts.
Those who are trying to persuade their school systems to take part in the week may ﬁnd the proclamation particularly useful in convincing administrators about the legitimacy of the event. You might also want to disseminate copies of the proclamation to teachers and schools that are planning to participate. They can then post the proclamation in appropriate places, like bulletin boards, and distribute it to parents, families, and students. Engage your social media accounts and tag the elected official or governing body to highlight the proclamation.
In the end, a proclamation is an important symbol of the community’s commitment to ﬁghting name-calling, so use it far and wide to carry that message.
What can we do after No Name-Calling Week to advance bullying and harassment protections for LGBTQ+ students?
- Ask Members of Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act!
- See if your state’s anti-bullying and harassment law protects LGBTQ+ students:
- If so, ask your state education agency to implement the law using GLSEN’s recommendations: https://www.glsen.org/activity/state-education-agency-implementation-resources
- If not, ask your state legislature to pass legislation that will protect all students from bullying and harassment using GLSEN’s model state legislation: https://www.glsen.org/activity/model-state-anti-bullying-harassment-legislation
- Assess local policies to see if they protect LGBTQ+ students using GLSEN’s local policy assessment tool: https://www.glsen.org/LEA-Assessment
- Local advocate’s can ask school board members to craft and adopt a policy using GLSEN’s recommendations: https://www.glsen.org/activity/model-district-anti-bullying-harassment-policy
WHAT SHOULD THE PROCLAMATION SAY?
Officials will often ask for suggested language for a proclamation. You can use and/or modify the sample proclamation. If you plan to move forward with a proclamation, check in with GLSEN’s policy department to make sure they know what language works best in your community by emailing email@example.com.