A new report by a trio of racial justice and LGBTQ+ organizations highlights an important but overlooked facet of the school to prison pipeline: LGBTQ+ students are also at risk from harsh disciplinary policies. The Equality Federation, the Advancement Project, and the Gay Straight Alliance Network worked together to publish their report, called Power in Partnerships: Building Connections at the Intersections to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The report not only emphasizes how crucial this issue is, but also serves as a valuable resource for groups looking to form partnerships to fight against all of the many ways the school to prison pipeline hurts students.
As the Equality Federations says in their press release:
Research shows that students of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are more likely to be disciplined than their White, non-LGBT peers. Students with intersectional identities, such as Black transgender youth or gay undocumented youth, are at even greater risk.
In one particularly egregious example, the report shares that gender-nonconforming girls are three times as likely to be convicted than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. When students are subjected to convictions, suspensions, and other harsh disciplinary practices, they lose instructional time and a feeling of connection to their schools. The Schott Foundation's bi-annual report on black boys in public education highlights their disproportionate representation among suspended students, and last winter the African American Policy Forum published a report illustrating how school discipline hurts black girls. This new report on LGBTQ+ students and their experiences with the school to prison pipeline opens yet another valuable lens through which we can see the affect of this school to prison pipeline on students.
The report also showcases successful efforts to collaborate in the fight against these injustices and ways to improve collaboration in the future. It candidly addresses problems organizations with different primary goals might encounter while working together, and suggests specific steps to begin a respectful collaborative process. And perhaps most importantly, it emphasizes the powerful results groups can accomplish while working together. As the report says:
In this moment, as the #BlackLivesMatter movement is advancing a national conversation about race, and the work of LGBTQ organizations is advancing a national conversation about sexual orientation and gender identity, it has never been more important for LGBTQ communities and communities of color to chart a course forward together.
They are why we call on activists and organizations—adults and youth, LGBTQ, people of color, and allies— to come together now. Building on the remarkable success stories we’ve shared, and using the hard-won best practices we’ve documented, we can end the school-to-prison pipeline, ensure that young people have the chance at a future they deserve, and strengthen the communities we all call home.
You can find the entire report here.