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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students - Recommendations for Schools

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
January 16, 2015

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At the December 2014 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students, a joint initiative between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth (Commission), made a presentation to the Board. The Commission asked the Board to review and endorse a set of Recommendations on the Support and Safety of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Students.

The proposed recommendations are intended to provide an updated set of best practices to guide schools in ensuring a safe and supportive climate for LGBTQ students. At the Board's request, we have reviewed the proposed recommendations and, in consultation with the Commission, revised them to align with applicable policies and regulations, including the Regulations Governing Access to Equal Educational Opportunity, 603 CMR 26.00. I am bringing these recommendations to the Board this month for discussion, in anticipation of a vote at the February meeting.

Nine recommendations are listed below. Recommendations 1 through 4 are substantially the same as the recommendations that the Board endorsed in 1993 on safe schools for gay and lesbian students, but they have been updated to refer to LGBTQ students. Recommendations 5 through 9 are new and reflect best practices.

Proposed Recommendations:

  1. Schools must have policies, and update them as needed, protecting LGBTQ students from harassment, violence, and discrimination based on LGBTQ status, to ensure compliance with the law.
  2. Schools are encouraged to include content about violence prevention and suicide prevention related to LGBTQ students in their required training for school personnel.
  3. Schools are encouraged to offer school-based groups for LGBTQ and heterosexual students.
  4. Schools are encouraged to provide support for family members of LGBTQ students.
  5. School districts are encouraged to designate a staff member who is proficient in issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Schools are encouraged to implement curricula that encourage respect for the human and civil rights of all individuals, including LGBTQ individuals.
  7. Schools are encouraged to provide age-appropriate information about LGBTQ issues in school libraries and in student and faculty resource centers.
  8. Schools are encouraged to have a diverse workforce.
  9. Schools are encouraged to review academic and non-academic policies and procedures, and available data, to identify issues or patterns that may create barriers to a safe and successful learning experience by LGBTQ youth.

I believe these recommendations will assist in furthering our goal of creating safe and supportive learning environments for all students. I recommend that the Board review and discuss the recommendations at the meeting on January 27. Deputy General Counsel Dianne Curran and Jeff Perrotti, Director of the Safe Schools Program, will be at the meeting to answer any questions. I plan to bring the recommendations to the Board for a vote at the February meeting.



Last Updated: January 22, 2015
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