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Anti-Bullying Policy Becomes More Inclusive

A nationwide survey recently published found that Illinois school districts typically don’t mention gay, lesbian and transgender students in their anti-bullying policies. But some districts, like Springfield’s District 186, have recently adopted a comprehensive policy provided by the Illinois Association of School Boards. 

"You want to make sure that your policies and procedures specifically mention language and training regarding gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation or identity,” says Cindy Martsch, a school social worker in Springfield.

Martsch is also the mother of a transgender son, who graduated from Springfield High School a few years ago.

The survey of anti-bullying policies at school districts across the nation checked for specific protections for kids whose sexual orientation or gender expression could make them targets for teasing or harassment. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network report found fewer than half of Illinois school districts specifically prohibit bullying gay and lesbian students, and only 7 percent have policies against bullying transgender students.

Last month, Springfield adopted a comprehensive anti-bullying policy, protecting LGBT students and their friends. The policy includes a system for reporting harassment. 

It was based on a template provided by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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