New Reports Reveal Pathways to School Pushout for Gender Nonconforming and LGBTQ Youth of Color

Report Examines how Youths’ Intersecting Identities Play Out in Their Experience With School Discipline, Harassment, and Criminalization in School

San Francisco- Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network), a national youth empowerment organization, and Crossroads Collaborative, a think-and-do research lab led by University of Arizona faculty, today released a set of reports on Discipline Disparities, School Push-Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline for gender nonconforming youth and for LGBTQ youth of color. To accompany the reports, Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, and GSA Network also released a set of policy recommendations based on the research for school staff, policy makers, and young people advocating for change.
“I was constantly harassed my freshman year because I was gay, and the administration did nothing to help and made me feel like I was the one who had done something wrong,” said Abram Bolanos, a GSA Network youth leader from San Diego. “It made me feel so alone and ashamed of who I was, I started skipping school to avoid the torment. Even though I later tried to bring my grades back up, my school transferred me to a continuation school where I only had a teacher one day a week. I finally switched to a probation school just to have the experience of having a teacher and being in a classroom. No young person should have to struggle this much just for the opportunity to go to school and learn. This report shows it wasn’t just me — LGBTQ youth of color and gender nonconforming youth are being pushed out of school, and we need to take action to stop it.”
The briefs find that LGBTQ youth of color and gender nonconforming youth are frequently blamed for their own victimization and targeted for harsh and biased school discipline. Additionally, LGBTQ students of color report increased surveillance and policing. As the report notes, this is consistent with previous research “illustrating race-based bias and criminalization of youth-of-color, but it is important to note that these students are also targeted due to sexual orientation and gender identity, expression, or presentation.” 
“These findings echo what we hear again and again from youth leaders – LGBTQ youth of color and gender nonconforming students are being pushed out of school by policies and practices that single them out for harassment and punishment,” said Mustafa Sullivan, Director of National Programs at GSA Network. “But youth are pushing back, and these reports come with recommendations for young people to take action, for example through our #GSAs4Justice campaign.”
The policy recommendations that accompany the briefs include implementing the recent Department of Education and Department of Justice Guidance on School Climate and Discipline, eliminating zero tolerance policies, and limiting the role of police in schools.
Read the full reports at:

Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a national youth leadership organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training student leaders and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs throughout the country. GSA Network operates the GSA Network of California and the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites 39 statewide networks of GSA clubs.
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