Discrimination against LGBTQ people is illegal. Courts have increasingly recognized the rights of students who identify as gay or transgender, as well as students who are nonbinary or gender-nonconforming (sometimes referred to as “gender-expansive”). Students who are LGBTQ or gender-expansive have the same rights as other students, and schools are required to intervene and correct policies or practices that discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
You can learn more here.
It is estimated that children in foster care change living placements on average two to three times while in care, and a third of older youth experience five or more school changes. Children lose four to six months of academic progress with each school change. Too often, credits earned at one school do not transfer or are not recognized towards graduation. These students are more likely to miss
school, be placed in inappropriate classes, and fail to receive the special education and remedial services they need, due in part to the absence of a consistent and involved educational decisionmaker.
To address these issues, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ensures school stability and immediate enrollment for all children in foster care. This fact sheet explains the important protections under this law and how these requirements are implemented in Pennsylvania.
Learn more here.
The First Amendment protects the rights of students to express themselves in public schools. Students are entitled to speak out, write articles, form groups, hand out flyers, and petition school officials. There are some important limits, however. Schools can prohibit certain forms of expression, including speech that substantially disrupts the school environment, violates the rights of others, or is lewd or vulgar.
Learn more here about what rights to free speech and expression students have in school.
Children involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems have the right to a free public education, like all public school students. These rights are not lost because of system involvement, and additional protections are in place to ensure access to a quality public education. Children and youth in the foster care and the juvenile justice system may need strong advocates because they are among the most educationally underserved of all student populations. As a result of multiple school changes and placement in on-grounds schools, students who are system-involved often fall through the cracks.
This fact sheet highlights important protections and addresses ways to support students to be successful.
To learn more, click here.