As students across America return to classes, we at the ACLU are preparing to help with yet another school year of defending LGBT students from censorship, harassment, attempts to block them from forming Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and other types of discrimination. While nobody loves doing homework, LGBT students might find it’s pretty useful to do a bit of research about what their legal rights are in school and how they can stand up for themselves. To help with that, we have lots of information available online.
You might just want to start off at the Youth and Schools section of our website, or head directly to the Library, our collection of LGBT student resources from the ACLU and other organizations. Know Your Rights! A Quick Guide for LGBT High School Students provides a good basic overview of LGBT students’ rights. There’s a printable PDF version at that link too, in case you want to make handouts for a GSA meeting or the school counselor’s office.
Among the many resources you’ll find at our Library is a series of open letters to school officials. All of these also have nice printable PDF versions on ACLU letterhead, so you can print it out and give it to the principal or whatever official at your school needs a gentle reminder of his or her legal obligations. Check out our letter to school officials about GSAs, our letter to school officials about censoring LGBT-related speech (or T-shirts, or armbands, or whatever they may be trying to censor), our letter about students’ right to participate in Day of Silence, and a couple of different letters about prom (or homecoming, or any other school dance or event where students are allowed to bring dates).
There’s much more available at our Library page — training manuals, links to other LGBT youth organizations, information on ACLU LGBT student rights cases, and more — so do take a look at it, there might just be something really helpful there for you. Student activists, parents, and teachers who are just starting out and want to make big changes at their schools — like how to get an anti-harassment policy passed or how to start a GSA from scratch — should also check out the schools section of our Get Busy, Get Equal toolkit.
You might find everything you need on our website, but if you don’t you can always contact us for help or advice. Remember: You have the right to be yourself!