The National Education Association has addressed the issue of school environment and safety for LGBT students in a brief by Stuart Biegal and Sheila James Kuehl. Additionally, in an article on the NEA website by Mary Ellen Flannery and Ilana Kowarski, two recent suicides of LGBT students are discussed in connection with the release of the brief.
One of these students jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. A gay California teen hung himself from a backyard tree. The authors of a new policy brief addressing safe schools for gay and lesbian students reported their recommendations last week to an audience of educators and advocates at the National Education Association.
Kevin Wellnar, executive director of the National Education Policy Center, one of the partners – along with the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice and the Williams Institute – in the briefing’s publication says: “I see these incidents as lynchings – because it’s so foreseeable that bullying and harassment will turn into suicides, it’s hard not to see them as lynchings.” I could not agree more. A dear friend and I discussed them last week as hate crimes.
The briefing provides research showing that the mistreatment of gay students harms their academic achievement and lives and that schools have failed to recognize the positive roles that can be played by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning educators. Additionally, it shows that schools have failed to address the systemic misplacement of GLBTQ students in special education and have failed also to address homophobia in school sports. Biegel makes specific recommendations for school initiatives that would address these concerns.
Co-author Sheila Kuehl, a former California state senator and attorney, focuses on combining school-site initiatives with legislation to prohibit bullying and harassment.
You may access "Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation" here. The brief is authored by Stuart Biegal and Sheila James Kuehl and is a collaboration of the Williams Institute in the UCLA Law School and the National Education Policy Center (NEPC). It is one of a series of briefs funded, in part, by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
You may read Flannery, Mary Ellen and Kowarski, Ilana. "Safe Schools for Gay Students" on the NEA website.