California’s youth are demanding safe and welcoming schools for kids of all ethnicities, religions, orientations and identities.
Earlier this year, we partnered with Free Our Dreams to launch the “Safe and Welcoming Schools” campaign, a statewide platform to protect and advance the needs of California’s most vulnerable students during this uncertain and contentious political climate.
The historic 2016 elections shook many Americans to their core. President Trump’s blatant and hateful attacks aimed at Muslim Americans, immigrants, LGBTQ and women took us back to America’s past. Since the inauguration of President Trump, there have been reports of increased anxiety among marginalized students, while others have been emboldened to carry out politicized bullying.
In June, BuzzFeed News reported more than 55 incidents of student harassment in K-12 schools. These occurred in more than 26 states and were directly linked to Trump’s name or his rhetoric. These attacks are taking a severe toll on our students and communities with significant increases in hate crimes and spikes in student trauma and absenteeism.
In response, advocacy and youth community organizations are fighting back. More than 100 California school districts have passed “Safe Haven” resolutions, reaffirming their commitment to protecting and serving immigrants, refugees, and undocumented students.
Earlier this summer, Free Our Dreams and Advancement Project California met with representatives from State Superintendent of Instruction Tom Torlakson’s office to advocate for inclusion beyond immigrant populations. The goal is encourage school districts to take proactive steps to protect not only undocumented and immigrant students, but also American Muslim, transgender/queer, Latinx and African American students.
The “Safe and Welcoming Schools” campaign builds upon this to ensure all students in California are safe to learn and thrive through a comprehensive approach:
- Reinforce all existing laws and administrative guidance for school districts.
- Support the passage of new legislation that can protect targeted students.
- Support local organizing and advocacy groups to work with local school districts for the full and effective implementation of these proposals and laws.
This youth directed campaign will present its policy platform at the California Department of Education’s “Beyond Safe Havens” conference in Sacramento on September 22nd. Stay tuned, more information to come on September 22nd.