QuERI serves as a resource for School Districts and plaintiffs in school harassment cases, and works with schools, School Boards and Districts to revise policy with the aim of creating more supportive school environments for LGBTQ youth. For information on consultation or policy analysis, contact contact QuERI via email.
QuERI’s policy position is that the purpose of school policy should not be limited to defining a school district’s legal obligations. Policy has the potential to establish expectations for and provide an organizational framework for maintaining a respectful and equitable school environment. Therefore, we recommend a “best practices” approach to school policy that reflects the school district’s intent to uphold the safety and dignity and affirm the identities of every student.
Our analysis of district and school policy documents typically reveals three major patterns of inconsistency:
Although sexual orientation is today often enumerated in district policies, this change has usually not been reflected in the language about equal rights that is present throughout the varying policy documents and is often not consistent throughout documents. Gender identity and expression are usually completely invisible in these documents. The invisibility of sexual and gender diversity in these documents communicates a message that LGBT students are not being given the same consideration as others who fall under protected categories such as race or religion.
Standards of conduct are usually ill-defined, and identification of behavior that threatens the health, safety, and learning of students is largely left to the discretion of individual school employees. A holistic vision for a safe, supportive school environment is also usually unclear.
Procedures for disrupting patterns of harassment are often written in such a way that individual school employees are given the authority to decide whether complaints of harassment warrant investigation or not, which leaves victims vulnerable to the possibility that school employees may choose to diminish, ignore, or underestimate threats to their safety. These procedures are often shared with parents and students only upon request.
QuERI has provided policy analysis in LGBTQ school harassment cases and worked with schools and districts to formulate better policies that support their LGBTQ students and children of LGBTQ families. Our approach is unique in the inclusion of qualitative research in support of understanding policy as lived experience and our efforts to include implementation of policy in the policy design. Our products include thorough analysis and provision of new policy documents reflecting that analysis.