LGBTQ students and students with disabilities face some of the highest rates of bullying. They’re also disproportionately suspended and expelled from school, along with students of color, showing that punitive discipline is not the solution to bullying and often hurts the youth it seeks to protect. Excluded from history, tormented by classmates and disproportionately kicked out of school, LGBT students and people with disabilities are often taught at school to feel worthless.
With the enactment of California’s FAIR Education Act, students can learn that these marginalized groups have actually made incredible contributions to this country’s history. They can learn that an openly gay man, Bayard Rustin, played a key role in the African-American Civil Rights movement—but that because of his identity, he was kept out of the spotlight and out of the history books. Students can learn that Americans with disabilities courageously fought for rights and protections under U.S. law, marking an important chapter in legislative history.
The FAIR Education Act gives California a tremendous advantage in the struggle to curb bullying. We just need to use it.