Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth have the right to express themselves in their schools — and Delaware schools have a constitutional responsibility to honor those rights.
Every student, regardless of their identity, deserves a safe, inclusive environment to learn. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community as a kid can often be intimidating. That reality is compounded by school policies that aren’t always designed to be inclusive of students who identify as part of these communities, but when schools are inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, all students experience better outcomes.
The ACLU of Delaware (ACLU-DE) recently launched a new resource that tackles this issue. Know Your Rights: A Guide to the First Amendment for LGBTQ+ Youth in Delaware is a handbook that aims to help students, parents, and educators learn their rights when it comes to LGBTQ+ expression in schools.
The handbook is packed with information related to students’ rights around LGBTQ+ expression in schools. Researched and written by Aaron Moseley-Saldivar, ACLU-DE education fellow, and designed by BrandSwan, the handbook includes:
- A digestible outline of the First Amendment and how it applies to LGBTQ+ students’ expression in schools
- Language and definitions that are commonly used in conversations about LGBTQ+ communities and issues
- A full list of rights that LGBTQ+ people are promised in schools – regardless of individual school policies
- A list of ways that students can use the First Amendment to express themselves in schools
- Information about the role that school boards play in policy-making for schools and how students can make their voices heard even if they can’t vote
- A list of resources for LGBTQ+ students in Delaware
A CAMP Rehoboth board member, Tara Sheldon, who is a parent of a student in the LGBTQ+ community, underscored the importance of this resource. “We are blessed to have support groups such as PTK (Parents of Trans Kids) and PFLAG, core organizations such as NASW-DE, CAMP Rehoboth, and ACLU-DE, and compassionate lawyers ready to represent – but if all students were treated with respect and kindness and provided the same opportunities as their peers for an education free from harassment, intimidation, and harm, maybe we wouldn’t need them. Until then, the ACLU-DE Know Your Rights guide for LGBTQ+ students will ensure this is so.”
The handbook is available on ACLU-DE’s website as a click-through guide with the option to download the printable handbook from the website available to all users. ACLU-DE encourages schools to make copies of this handbook available to their students and educators. Any school, or community organization that wishes to have copies available can reach out to Melissa Bryson, ACLU-DE development director, to request copies at no charge: [email protected].
View the full guide online at bit.ly/kyr-lgbtq-students
Melissa Bryson is the Development Director for the ACLU of Delaware