Equality Virginia believes that all students and school employees have the right to feel safe in their educational environment or workplace, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
Today, more than 25% of of Virginia’s public school students and employees are protected based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Beginning in 2012, only 1.85% of Virginia public school students in two districts were protected by a bullying policy enumerated with sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Due to Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2015 opinion on school boards’ authority, they now have the power to amend non-discrimination policies for employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that school boards now have the authority to protect students and employees through policy updates.
Equality Virginia works with public school districts across Virginia to update bullying and nondiscrimination policies to include gay and transgender students.
A 2013 survey from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) shows that verbal harassment decreases by over 20% in schools with LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies. Additionally, employees of these districts are more likely to intervene when they witness instances of harassment. Therefore, we believe it is in the school district’s best interests to implement comprehensive nondiscrimination policies to protect students in the state of Virginia.
Equality Virginia recommends the inclusion of such policies as:
- Access to appropriate bathrooms and locker areas based on gender identity
- Respect of preferred names and pronouns
- A dress-code that allows students to dress in an appropriate manner that matches their gender identity
- Meet with your school board members and school administrators about the importance of GSAs and discuss how the student conduct code can be amended and enforced to better protect LGBTQ students from bullying, intimidation and harassment. Write us at email@example.com for information on how to work with your school board.
- Read the EV’s recommended Model Policy here.
- Join Equality Virginia in supporting the work of Side By Side and GLSEN in promoting strategies to make schools safer including the establishment of GSA’s.
- Start a GSA at your high school. See the Jump Start Guide from GLSEN.
- Talk to your school board or local schools about setting up a training program for teachers and school administrators on LGBT issues. Side by Side provides fee-for-service training for school personnel, mental health professionals, court services and social service agencies.
- Meet with your state delegate and senator to educate them about the importance of GSA’s to the prevention of harassment and bullying. Prepare to oppose anti-GSA legislation.
Do you have a story to share?
Tell it! ►Tell it! If you have been the victim or witness of bullying, harassment, discrimination or violence at your school Share your experiences with bullying or violence through Equality Virginia’s Tell It campaign.
- Schools in Transition, A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools
- Transgender Students and Bathrooms, Gender Spectrum
- Teens Learn and Live the Law, Defining Bullying by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General
- Bullying Prevention and Response, BullyingInfo.org
- Local Youth Programs, Side by Side
- Jump Start Guide for Gay-Straight Alliances, GLSEN Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network
- Virginia Climate Snapshot, GLSEN (2013)
- GSA Network 2015-2016 Year Start Packet, Gay-Straight Alliance Network
- Speak Up At School: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias and Stereotypes, Teaching Tolerance
- Stop Bullying, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Bullying, Harassment, School-Based Violence, The Safe Schools Coalition (includes links to student and family guides in English and Spanish for responding to anti-LBGTQ violence)