One in four students in this country experience bullying related to their race, national origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Teachers want to help but feel unequipped and afraid to address identity-based bullying and harassment due to misinformation about Texas’ classroom censorship laws that limit discussions of such topics as race and gender in schools.
Today, IDRA is releasing a new issue brief, Identity-based Bullying in Texas Schools – Policy Recommendations, that describes how widespread this problem is across the state, how it increases risk for mental health challenges and exacerbates existing traumas, and steps Texas can take to strengthen policies prohibiting and preventing identity-based bullying.
“While Texas has made significant progress in addressing bullying in schools, schools do not have a clear framework for conducting and documenting bullying investigations,” said Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D., IDRA chief legal analyst. “And TEA does not collect data on bullying targeting students based on their protected status.”
IDRA’s issue brief gives examples of the bullying students are experiencing. In one school, a Jewish student reported repeatedly experiencing bullying about his facial features and “gas chambers” at school, which was so severe that he contemplated suicide and forced him out of the school system.
In another school, Black students have been called the “N-word” on a near-daily basis, frequently referred to as “porch monkeys,” forced to listen to other students making “monkey sounds” at them in class and told to “go pick cotton.”