Free State Justice Applauds State Board of Education

Safe schools regulations will protect marginalized and vulnerable youth

Free State Justice, Maryland's leading organization working for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights, today applauded the State Board of Education and its members for adopting new safe schools regulations that will protect vulnerable students. The vote was 8 to 3 in favor of the new regulations.

"The regulations passed today will ensure that all students in school systems around the State will be protected from harassment and discrimination," said Jon A. Kaplan, Executive Director of Free State Justice. "Those students who are identified as especially marginalized and vulnerable will not slip through the administrative cracks."

The regulations passed today create a list of specifically-protected classes of students who are excessively vulnerable to teasing, bullying, harassment and discrimination. Race, ethnicity, region, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, age and disability are all categories of students protected by the new regulations. Prior to today's vote, those regulations stated only that "all" students should be protected from harassment and discrimination in state schools, language that was ambiguous and ineffective, according to Free State and many other experts in the field.

"These regulations will grant teachers and administrators throughout the State the authority to stand up for the most susceptible youth, including gay and lesbian students, with the knowledge that the State Board of Education stands behind them," Kaplan said. "The regulations make it clear that teasing, harassment and mistreatment in and around the classroom for any reason is unacceptable."

The regulations do not affect the curricula taught in school systems in Maryland.

FSJ has been working for passage of safe schools regulations for more than two years. "Today, it has been proven that the system works," Kaplan said. "Several versions of the regulations have been proposed over the past several years, and the regulations passed today are a version over which the Board of Education and the people of Maryland have reached consensus."

"The process was followed, the public was heard, and the State Board of Education has done the right thing," Kaplan said.

Free State Justice is Maryland’s largest civil rights organization focusing on making life better for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of the state. Free State Justice can be found online at .


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