National Bullying Prevention Month is coming to a close. Your kids have hopefully been able to attend school these last two months. While the opening of schools may be a blessing for you as a parent, it may be hellish for your LGBT child if he is being bullied. Although the school climate is better in 2020 for LGBT students, according to a GLSEN (Gay, Straight Education Network) survey, particularly if there are a Gay-Straight Alliance in your child’s school, trained teachers to spot bullying, an inclusive LGBT curriculum, bullying can still be a problem in your school.
Kick It Upstairs
In my last blog “Making The School Your Ally,” October 20, 2020, I wrote about preparation for a school meeting when the school is the problem and your child is the victim. You need to know your district’s policies and relevant state and federal laws. What are your state’s laws? What are your school district’s policies on safety, bullying and non-discrimination?
When the school ISN’T your ally, you need to present your notes that have documentation of every infringement: date, time, outcome as well as statement from your child, witnesses, your child’s emotional state and if your child has reported it to a teacher or principal. You may need them for the police if physical assault, vandalizing, stalking or cyberbullying take place.
You don’t want to attack the school employees. They could be potential allies, but right now you are at school because they aren’t protecting your child.
File A Complaint If Bullying Continues
You can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Education Department. Public schools receive federal funding and are consequently protected under Title IX. You have to file within 180 days of when the bullying occurred. Fill out the entire form or it will be dismissed. After reading the instructions, click Continue to Complaint Form at the bottom of the page to get started.
- Your claim will not be shared without permission. It is confidential.
- A third party (family member, school faculty member or a friend) can file the complaint.
- The school cannot retaliate against anyone who has made a complaint or testified, assisted or participated in any investigation or proceeding under Title IX.
Questions? You can call:
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Public Policy Office. 202-621-5815.
- Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Metro office: 202-453-6020.
- The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education is headquartered in Washington. The Customer Service Hotline: (800) 421-3481.
After the Claim…
Be persistent and follow up. You are not being a pest. Your child deserves to learn in a safe environment.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.