LGBTQ STUDNETS WIN VICTORY FOR SAFE AND AFFIRMING EDUCATION!
GENDER JUST YOUTH WIN CAMPAIGN FOR A GRIEVANCE PROCESS IN CPS
Youth from the grassroots organization, Gender JUST, met with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) leadership in the evening of June 8, 2010 and received a commitment to implement the Grievance Process that Gender JUST youth have been organizing around for the past year. “This is a landmark victory,” said Eric Amaya, junior at Kelly High School and member of the Gender JUST Leadership Team, “a Grievance Process is a first step in ensuring that all schools are safe and affirming for everyone.”
“Our grievances are supposed to be heard,” said Nalleli Luna, Gender JUST member and sophomore at Little Village Lawndale High School, “students should not have to be silent about the violence we face.” Gender JUST youth negotiated with CPS about the details of the Grievance Process and received an agreement that it will be based on principles of restorative justice, which emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by violence through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders. CPS also agreed to Gender JUST’s petition for this process to be driven by students and to include a student oversight committee.
CPS will be announcing the new Grievance Process at an upcoming CPS Board of Education meeting. Under this Grievance Process, youth will submit grievances via web, phone, or paper form to report incidents of violence, harassment, discrimination, oppression, or any other act that makes a student feel unsafe in their school. Investigators from the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office (EOCO) will be utilized to look into grievances requiring further research and a student oversight committee will monitor the entire process. Gender JUST has been pushing for resolutions and actions based on the grievances to be made by local committees of students who are trained on principles of restorative justice and who understand the local context.
Gender JUST youth have been organizing around a Grievance Process as part of the Safe & Affirming Education Campaign since the CPS leadership transition in early 2009. Gender JUST youth organized a community forum where 200 residents witnessed Gender JUST youth and allies present a platform for Safe & Affirming Education to CPS Chief Ron Huberman. This was followed by a series of meetings and, subsequently, several direct-actions including taking over the lobby of CPS headquarters and delivering 100 student grievances to the home of Ron Huberman. “Now we can be sure that our voices, and the voices of all the students who come after us, will be heard loud and clear,” said Cheryl Doyle, Gender JUST member and senior at Schurz High School.
Gender JUST’s youth-led Safe & Affirming Education Campaign is a grassroots effort led by LGBTQA students of color and supported by parents, teachers, and allies working together to fight against oppression and violence in Chicago Public Schools by organizing through an economic, racial, and gender justice framework.
Gender JUST (Justice United for Social Transformation) is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational grassroots organization of LGBTQA young people, LGBTQA people of color, and LGBTQA grassroots folks developing leadership and building power through organizing. www.genderjust.org
# # #