Discrimination based on religion and ethnicity has seen a dramatic increase, specifically in the last year. According to a recent Huffington Post article, this is due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, as well as the media’s coverage of the election. A report published by the Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative found that there were more acts of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism in 2015 than in any year since Sept. 11. In addition to students perceived to be Muslim, those who are Hindu, Sikh and Jewish are also often targeted.
The U.S. Department of Education has launched several initiatives to address these instances of discrimination. The Office of Civil Rights launched an informational website featuring policy guidance, samples of religious discrimination case resolutions and additional information for schools, as well as an updated online complaint form where students, parents, or other individuals/groups can report incidents. The Office of Civil Rights is also requiring schools to report the number of incidents involving religious-based bullying and harassment using its online data collection platform. The Department of Education will begin providing technical assistance to schools and community organizations beginning in October to further combat religious discrimination and harassment.
What can your district do in the meantime? Train your educators on the definition and warning signs of discriminatory harassment. PublicSchoolWORKS’ “Discriminatory Harassment — Identification and Response for Educators” course defines eight types of peer harassment, including religious discrimination; explores how peer discrimination is different from bullying; defines how school employees should identify, respond and intervene; summarizes three legal requirements and considerations; and shares online resources from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
Interested in having your employees complete this course? Contact us today to find out more.