GSA Network Unite! petition tool empowers school-based Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs to advocate for restorative approaches to school discipline
San Francisco – Today, the national youth empowerment organization Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) launched a campaign for GSA clubs to demand their districts adopt the recommendations around restorative practices outlined in the educators’ toolkit released Thursday by prominent educator and advocate organizations. The #GSAs4Justice campaign empowers youth to push back against punitive discipline policies that create a school-to-prison pipeline for youth of color, youth with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
“All young people should have the opportunity to go to a safe school, be themselves, and graduate. But stories like that of Jewlyes Gutierrez – a transgender girl who faced battery charges in November for defending herself against bullying – send the message to LGBTQ youth of color that their lives are disposable and that simply trying to get an education carries a risk of jail time,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. “GSA youth leaders demand an end to both hostile school environments and school policies and practices that criminalize young people.”
In 2012, GSA Network, the Advancement Project, and the Alliance for Educational Justice issued a report, Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right, detailing the harm caused by zero tolerance responses to bullying. This past fall, 28 statewide organizations, members of GSA Network’s National Association, issued a statement supporting restorative approaches to school discipline as the best solution for LGBTQ youth.
The #GSAs4Justice campaign encourages schools to adopt the best practices outlined in “Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools," a toolkit for educators released last Thursday by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Advancement Project, and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign.
American Federation of Teacher's President Randi Weingarten reiterated her organization's concern over discipline disparities and stressed the need for alternative codes of conduct in schools across the country: "We cannot close the achievement gap in this country until we close the discipline gap. Our friends at the GSA Network understand the importance of creating healthy school environments where educators and students alike can succeed. By adopting the recommendations outlined in our toolkit, we can reduce disparate impact by having fair administration of codes of conduct, vigilant monitoring of the intersection of bullying and harassment of students and disproportionate response for code infractions."
Youth can join the #GSAs4Justice campaign through GSA Network Unite!, a new petition platform for GSA clubs to connect with and support each others’ campaigns across the country.
#GSAs4Justice campaign: http://unite.gsanetwork.org/efforts/push-for-restorative-justice
"Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools" toolkit: http://www.otlcampaign.org/restorative-practices
GSA Network Unite! petition platform: http://unite.gsanetwork.org