Protecting Our Students’ Civil Rights – Resources
Model Policies and FAQs
Find model school board policies to use as a guide for the strongest and most innovative protections for students’ civil rights.
- Sexual Harassment (Title IX)(Students), Oakland Unified School District
- Policy 443: Creating Welcoming and Affirming Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students
Frederick County Public Schools, MD
- Brief video describing Frederick County Public Schools’ Policy 443
Share your events, actions or resolutions regarding student civil rights here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips on Working with School Boards
Whether you are a regular at your school board meetings or are just getting started, here are some tips to make your advocacy for our students the best it can be.
Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Resolution Passed in Your School District
Form a Team to Support the Effort and Then Expand Your Supporters
Are there students, parents, educators on your team? Good! You are ready to expand your effort into the broader community. Check and see if there are other groups working on similar issues in your community. If not, pull together a committee with representatives from different constituencies including faith-based groups, students and youth organizations, parent groups, etc. Call a first meeting to discuss the problem students are facing and why a resolution may be a solution.
- Engage Your School Board, Educators and Parents
If you are unsure about where your school board stands on a particular student civil rights issue, you may want to start by surveying the board so you can assess who are your allies, swing members, and those that will pose a tough challenge. Meet with each board member and ask if they would generally support the resolution. This effort can be divided among different team members or partnering organizations. IF students are old enough to represent themselves in meetings, it’s always powerful when they share their own stories. Make sure there is a point person who is collecting the results of the meetings to report back to the group.
- Gather Signatures of Support
Create a petition and disperse it widely through Facebook and other social media, at parent and educator meetings, etc. The petition should demand that the school board “get on board” and take a stand on the resolution.
- Identify Board Member Allies
Identify your strongest ally (or allies) on the school board and set up a meeting with him/her to discuss introducing a resolution. Bring an education packet to share. Include talking points, newspaper articles, signed petitions, and survey data – a visual of the survey data is even better! Ask the board member(s) to take the lead in garnering the support of other board members. Ask him/her to approve the language in the draft resolution. This process may take a number of days and a fair amount of negotiating.If the board person is not willing to lead the effort to get a resolution passed, first assess the reasons why. Is it that the resolution you presented as written would prove impossible to secure his/her support? Is he/she afraid to take the lead on this issue? Depending on the reason, you may want to take some of the following paths:
- Try a different member of the board.
- Plan actions to target the member.
- Negotiate on the draft resolution language.
- Hold a Public Education Event or Town Hall Meeting
At any point in this process, you may want to consider setting up a public event in your city/district to raise awareness in the community and garner wider support for the resolution, to bring more citizen power into the effort, and to build the movement in your area. One way to involve school board members early in this effort is to set up a “town hall meeting” with a panel of people presenting the various arguments for (and against) the resolution and a panel of board members and citizens listening and asking follow-up questions.
- Reach Out to the Media
The easiest way to make the resolution effort appealing to the media is to demonstrate the direct impact on the students in your district and your community.A public education event or action is a great opportunity to inform journalists about the campaign and build support to get the resolution passed. If you are not holding a public education event, consider holding a news conference featuring school board members leading the effort and diverse members of your coalition.If you don’t have board members friendly to your cause, you may want to plan media outreach around an action designed to target board members and expose their unwillingness to support parents and educators. Ideas include: holding a teach-in at a public space, holding a vigil at their home, or conducting some other creative action to garner attention for the resolution. Draft a news release and send it to your local and regional press. Don’t overlook education and parent bloggers in your area.If a resolution passes successfully, don’t forget to do follow-up media work. Hold a news conference and claim a victory for your issue and thank your supporters!
- What to do When a Resolution Will Not Pass/Be Introduced
The following are some alternative options for expressing the support for your position in your school district/city:
- Gauge if more internal organizing such as union meetings and informal meetings with parents and other activists (including students) might help escalate actions and the effort to pass the resolution.
- If you have any allied board members, ask them to circulate a general letter in support of your position to other members.
- Write a letter to the editor or an opinion piece for the local paper.
- You can also try different groups in your city/district such as University Resolutions, Labor Union local resolutions, Parent and Teacher Associations, or other civic bodies.
Webinars, Videos & Art for Action
|Art, videos, and webinars to empower you to engage your communities to support students’ civil rights.
Freedom to ReadCensoring books written by mostly Black, brown, and LGBTQ authors denies students the ability to see themselves and understand our similarities and our differences. We’re joining together to make sure every student has to look no further than the shelves of their own school libraries to find age-appropriate books that show they are reflected and respected.
COVID-19 & Our CommunitiesThe systemic inequities that are laid bare by COVID-19 increase the stressors on our students, our families and the most vulnerable in our communities. As we organize together for a better tomorrow, we are sharing ways that educators and allies are addressing the challenges and keeping us connected and caring for each other.
Racial Justice is Education JusticeOur education system is intended to uphold equal opportunity, but too often it also entrenches racial disparities by its design. We are engaging educators, students and allies to foster real dialogue around issues of racial justice in education and to mobilize and take action for education justice.
Support Ethnic Studies ProgramsFrom campaigns to require schools to offer ethnic studies courses, to efforts to change the names of schools honoring Confederate leaders, students and educators are mobilizing to include voices of the diverse ethnicities that have contributed to the history and culture of the United States.
Ending the School-to-Prison PipelineZero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies are pushing kids out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system at unprecedented rates. Learn how educators, students and families are building relationships and community to address and prevent conflict.
Families Belong TogetherImmigration issues are complicated. But some things are simple. We should not punish children for decisions they didn’t make. We should not separate families. And we should provide a trusted path to citizenship for immigrant Dreamers. Read how educators are taking action on these issues.
Protecting Our Students' Civil RightsIn the face of federal civil rights rollbacks and threats, educators, parents and students are organizing to adopt school board policies that strengthen student protections. Find model policies and strategies that will empower you to ensure all students’ right to a safe and affirming school.
Educational Equity for Women and GirlsAll students deserve equal access to educational opportunities. However, girls and women often face structural barriers that threaten their success in school and beyond. Girls of color are more likely than white girls to face unfair discipline. And sexual harassment and violence in school are problems that confront most all girls. Learn how educators, students and allies are mobilizing to support the needs of all students — regardless of gender.
Facing Hate and Bias at SchoolAll students have a right to a public education in a safe learning environment. But right now, many of our students are scared, anxious, and feeling threatened. Students and educators around the country are reporting hostile and hateful environments in their schools and communities. When students feel that they are not welcome, their ability to learn and thrive is diminished.