#GSAs4Justice campaign empowers LGBT teens

The Gay Straight Alliance Network is rallying GSA clubs around the country to urge their districts to adopt practices described in "Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools." This is a toolkit for educators that was released this past Thursday by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the Advancement Project, and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

#GSAs4Justice campaign looks to empower youth to fight against discipline policies that create a school to prison correlation for youth of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBT youth. The use of restorative justice, which is outlined in the toolkit, attempts to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and disciplinary referrals. It focuses on repairing harm done, and righting any wrongs. The goal is to repair relationships that have been injured. To resolve whatever wrong has been committed instead of straightaway resorting to harsh disciplinary practices.

Other alternative practices can be found in the educator's toolkit.

The campaign stems from wanting to create a safe space in schools for kids to be themselves and graduate. Last November Jewlyes Gutierrez, a transgender girl, was charged with battery for defending herself against bullies, sends a message to LGBT youth that their lives are without worth and that defending themselves against attack at school can get you sent to jail.

"We cannot close the achievement gap in this country until we close the discipline gap. Our friends at the GSA Network understand the importance of creating healthy school environments where educators and students alike can succeed. By adopting the recommendations outlined in our toolkit, we can reduce disparate impact by having fair administration of codes of conduct, vigilant monitoring of the intersection of bullying and harassment of students and disproportionate response for code infractions," said Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers.

Join #GSAs4Justice campaign through GSA Network Unite!, a platform where GSA clubs can connect with and support each other's campaigns all over the country.