By Neda Said
Incidents of hate in schools are on the rise. We’ve heard this directly from youth leaders: there is a strong resurgence of racist graffiti and vandalism on school property, and an increase in harassing language and physical aggression towards LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color.
Accessing positive school environments is particularly difficult for youth leaders in the Southeast and Midwest where local and state governments are debating ‘bathroom bills’ and other ‘religious freedom acts’ that seek to deny federal anti-discrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth. This type of legislation can embolden an environment to where trans and queer youth experience even more interpersonal harm.
We Won’t Be Idle
In March 2017, GSA Network joined a group of 10 other organizations across the country to launch Communities Against Hate, a national initiative to collect data and respond to incidents of violence, threats, and property damage motivated by hate around the United States. GSA Network is the only organization in this initiative that will work directly with students and youth leaders to empower them to track hate incidents in schools that target youth who identify as LGBTQ+, African-American, Muslim, and Dreamers, among other populations that experience discrimination and harassment in local communities. You can start reporting incidents of hate now.
GSA clubs are powerful. They have demonstrated their effectiveness in providing safe spaces for youth and transforming school climates. Over the next several months we will leverage their power and work with youth leaders in California, as well as several states in the Southeast and Midwest, to activate GSA clubs to become school-based hubs for LGBTQ+ youth, youth of color, and other students who are experiencing incidents of hate. We will also train them how to report these incidents through a national database. Finally, we will ensure that survivors of hate incidents are connected to needed resources and safety tips.
Our End Goal
Our participation in the Communities Against Hate initiative is just a first step towards a long-term strategy to combat hate. We want to do more than just report hate incidents that youth are experiencing. That’s why we are creating new curriculum, trainings, and resources that will address the root causes of why youth are experiencing hate in their schools, what populations are most affected in certain regions, and what systems need to be changed in different parts of the country.
Youth leaders know first-hand what they are experiencing in schools and need to be equipped with the knowledge and tools that will help them improve their local community. This will build a stronger national movement led by trans and queer youth of color that is at the forefront of racial and gender justice.
If you’ve experienced hate, you’re not alone. Report incidents of hate in schools. Get your questions answered at 1-844-STOP-HATE