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Combating Post-Election Bullying and Bias-Motivated Incidents in Schools

Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Facilitator

Yesterday, HRC released the results of a nationwide youth survey, revealing a significant increase in bias-based bullying and harassment since November’s election. Findings include:

  • Seventy percent of respondents reported witnessing bullying, hate messages or harassment during or since the 2016 election. Of those, 79 percent said such behaviors have been occurring more frequently since the onset of the presidential campaign.
  • Over the past 30 days, about half of transgender youth reported feeling hopeless and worthless most or all of the time, and 70 percent said that these and similar feelings have increased in the past 30 days. Thirty-six percent had been personally bullied or harassed, and 56 percent had changed their self-expression or future plans because of the election.

These findings echo a recent Teaching Tolerance report, After Election Day, The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools. The report details how educators have seen school climates negatively affected by the results of the recent presidential campaign.

Now, ahead of President-elect Trump’s inauguration, more and more educators across the nation are wondering how they can support and foster healthier school climates.

For the benefit of all students, teachers must directly address bias-based bullying. Creating safe, welcoming schools is no easy task, and goes beyond addressing bullying behavior when it happens. In order to end bullying, teachers must eliminate the bias at the root of it. This is possible through education and luckily, HRC’s Welcoming Schools has plenty of resources to help.

Preparation is your best tool in creating respectful learning environments and combating the “Trump Effect.” The Welcoming Schools’ guide “What Do You Say To ‘That’s So Gay’ and Other Anti-LGBTQ Comments?” is an excellent resource that provides quick, simple responses that teachers can use at a moment’s notice. Ignoring harassment gives the behavior your tacit approval. Instead, view these incidents of bullying as teachable moments, and learn how to shift conversations from simply disciplinary to educational.

Promoting kindness and respect presents an opportunity to be a powerful example of support and unconditional love to your students each and every day. For more resources and to learn more, visit www.welcomingschools.org.

For more resources on how you can support LGBTQ youth who have been affected by the election results, click here.

To learn more about HRC’s work with children and youth, visit hrc.org/youth.

For more information about bullying, click here and click here.

For more information about cyberbullying, click here.

HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.