In November 2013, Jewlyes Gutierrez, a transgender student from California, was charged with assault for defending herself against bullying at school. A year earlier, Dynasty Young in Indiana was expelled for bringing a stun gun to school after enduring months of harassment based on his sexual orientation and gender expression.
These high-profile cases — and the countless others happening across the country — never should have gone so far.
Today, GSA Network launched a #GSAs4Justice campaign so that your GSA can demand that restorative justice, not jail, is the FIRST approach your district uses to resolve incidents of bias-based bullying.
We often hear about bullying in schools, but the anti-bullying and zero tolerance policies adopted in response pose just as much of a danger for LGBTQ youth of color. Together, hostile school environments and extreme disciplinary policies create a school-to-prison pipeline for youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth, telling them that their lives are disposable and that simply trying to get an education carries a risk of jail time. LGBTQ youth make up just 5-7% of the youth population, but represent 15% of those in the juvenile justice system.
Last Thursday, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Opportunity to Learn Campaign, and the Advancement Project jointly released a toolkit highlighting restorative approaches as a best practice and providing guidance to administrators and educators on implementing them.
Today, you can start a campaign demanding that restorative approaches, as outlined in the toolkit, be implemented in your school. Go to: http://unite.gsanetwork.org/efforts/push-for-restorative-justice