April 14, 2011
>Four Things You Should Know about Student Rights and Day of Silence (2011)
>GUEST POST FROM THE ACLU:
Two things I’ve learned over the years that I’ve worked with LGBT students at the American Civil Liberties Union are that many school administrators and teachers don’t have the slightest clue about what their students’ legal rights are, and that a lot of the ones who do know go right ahead and violate students’ rights anyway because they think they can get away with it.
The only way to be sure that your school will respect and uphold your legal rights is for YOU to educate yourself about what your rights are and hold your school to its responsibility to protect and enforce them.
That’s never more true than during the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling LGBT students often experience in school. Here are four things you need to know about your rights as you mark Day of Silence this year on Friday, April 15.
1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
If you’re concerned that your school might forbid you from participating in Day of Silence, you might want to print out the ACLU’s “Letter to Educators about the Day of Silence” (2-page PDF) and give it to your school administrators. Tell them they should show the letter to the school’s lawyer. The letter explains what schools’ responsibilities are regarding Day of Silence.
And for more information on your rights in public schools, check out the youth and schools section of the ACLU’s website.
By Chris Hampton
Note: If you’ve read the above and think your rights may being violated, let us know! We’ve partnered with Lambda Legal to provide speedy assistance if you’re facing resistance. Report it! and Lambda Legal will be in touch with you as soon as they can.