Civil Rights Coalition: Time for Action on School Climate

Education News 09.4.19

Contact: Kristen Voorhees, [email protected], 202.548.7166

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference Education Fund released Civil Rights Principles for Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climatestoday to urge policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that all students can learn in safe, healthy, and inclusive environments. Fifty-seven civil rights and education organizations signed onto the principles, asking members of Congress to fulfill their role in helping educators and communities create and maintain safe schools that afford all students equal educational opportunities by incorporating these principles into all relevant legislation.

The principles cover issues of school climate, including students’ civil rights, discipline practices, childhood trauma, harassment and discrimination, data collection, school infrastructure, school-based law enforcement, and students’ health and safety. The proposed changes will prevent further disenfranchisement and criminalization of historically marginalized students, including students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ youth, religious minorities, sexual assault survivors, and immigrant students, among others.

“Every student, no matter who they are, the color of their skin, or their disability status deserves to learn in a school climate that protects and promotes their safety and rights,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “For any legislation seeking to improve school climates to succeed, it must center the voices and experiences of the children in our schools. These principles are a foundation upon which members of Congress can facilitate meaningful reform that represents the needs and supports the well-being of all students.”

“It is imperative that Congress fund evidence-based practices that support students while protecting and enforcing their civil rights,” said Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “Instead of responding to tragedies such as mass shootings by increasing police presence and criminalizing youth, we need to instead work vigorously to increase equity in schools across the country and guard the safety of all children.”

“For far too long, as a response to incidents of school violence, Congress has turned to solutions that end up criminalizing vulnerable children, particularly children of color, youth with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth,” said Marcy Mistrett, CEO for the Campaign for Youth Justice. “Not only can these policies funnel children into the juvenile justice system, they can also land children in the adult criminal justice system, where penalties are harsh and not designed to meet the needs of children. These principles provide a road map for Congress to pass legislation that advances safe, supportive schools to help every child succeed.”

The principles can be found here.

The full list of signatories is below.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Campaign for Youth Justice
Advancement Project National Office
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity
American Association of University Women
American Civil Liberties Union
American Islamic Congress
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Anti-Defamation League
Arab American Institute
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Popular Democracy
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Education Law Center – PA
Feminist Majority Foundation
Hindu American Foundation
Hispanic Federation
Human Rights Campaign
Impact Fund
Interfaith Alliance
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.
Lambda Legal
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Movement Advancement Project
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools
National Center for Youth Law
National Disability Rights Network
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Urban League
National Women’s Law Center
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
PFLAG National
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
Voto Latino


The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit