BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Testimony of GLAA on
B22-0594 – Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017
GLAA is pleased to submit this written testimony in support of Bill 22-0594, Student Fair Access to School Act of 2017. If passed, this bill will contribute to the urgent need to address the school-to-prison pipeline many youth face in the District, especially those who are black, brown, or sexual and gender minorities.
As the nation’s longest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization, we recognize the disproportionate burden placed on many members of our community as a result of implicit and explicit biases. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered in DC’s schools showed that students who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual students were more like to miss one or more days of school because they felt unsafe, they were more likely to be bullied on school property or electronically, and more likely to be harassed on school property because someone thought they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Navigating these often unaccepting environments increases the chances that students of minority statuses are involved in fights or other circumstances with disciplinary implications. Studies show that because these students have a higher likelihood of being bullying at school, and to experience hostility, discrimination and violence in other spaces, they may become be overly represented in instances of physical or emotional injuries, and seek comfort, escape or acceptance through substance use.
We urge you to consider the importance of improving school disciplinary policies in our schools, and to discourage the use of isolation through suspension or expulsion as solutions. These youth often live with several intersectional minority statuses, which not only make them more likely to be provoked, but also punished unfairly. These outcomes often reinforces patterns of cruelty and rejection many LGBT youth face daily, and contribute the disproportionate representation of LGB students in DC schools who are depressed and have contemplated harming themselves. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Guillaume R. Bagal III