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How to File A Complaint: Equal Access Act
Jan 30th, 2015 by

How to File A Complaint: Equal Access Act

Gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and similar student-initiated groups addressing  Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender (LGBT)  issues can play an important role in promoting safer schools and creating more welcoming learning environments. Nationwide, students are forming these groups in part to combat bullying and harassment of LGBT students and to promote understanding and respect in the school community. Although the efforts of these groups focus primarily on the needs of LGBT students, students who have LGBT family members and friends, and students who are perceived to be LGBT, messages of respect, tolerance, and inclusion benefit all our students. By encouraging dialogue and providing supportive resources, these groups can help make schools safe and affirming environments for everyone.

But in spite of the positive effect these groups can have in schools, some such groups have been unlawfully excluded from school grounds, prevented from forming, or denied access to school resources. These same barriers have sometimes been used to target religious and other student groups, leading Congress to pass the Equal Access Act.

In 1984, Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Equal Access Act, requiring public secondary schools to provide equal access for extracurricular clubs. Rooted in principles of equal treatment and freedom of expression, the Act protects student-initiated groups of all types.  By allowing students to discuss difficult issues openly and honestly, in a civil manner, our schools become forums for combating ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.

The Act requires public secondary schools to treat all student-initiated groups equally, regardless of the religious, political, philosophical, or other subject matters discussed at their meetings. Its protections apply to groups that address issues relating to LGBT students and matters involving sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they apply to religious and other student groups.

Although specific implementation of the Equal Access Act depends upon contextual circumstances, these guidelines reflect basic obligations imposed on public school officials by the Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The general rule, approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, is that a public high school that allows at least one noncurricular student group to meet on school grounds during noninstructional time (e.g., lunch, recess, or before or after school) may not deny similar access to other noncurricular student groups, regardless of the religious, political, philosophical, or other subject matters that the groups address.

 

Source: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/110607.html
 

How to File a Complaint of Violations of the Equal Access Act

There is no government body tasked with specific oversight of the Equal Access Act. However, several  federal and state agencies do have authority to handle complaints based on civil rights violations. Complaints may be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office
or on the Connecticut state level with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

  1. Federal:


U.S. Department of Justice
 Civil Rights Division

 

The Educational Opportunities Section enforces federal laws that protect students from harassment or discrimination. The Section is responsible for enforcing Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion in public schools and institutions of higher learning; the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 which, among other things, requires states and school districts to provide English Language Learner (ELL) students with appropriate services to overcome language barriers; and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination. The Section also plays a significant role in enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal funds); Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex by recipients of federal funds); and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (both of which address disability discrimination and appropriate disability-related services).

The Educational Opportunities Section accepts complaints of potential violations:

  • By e-mail to education@usdoj.gov
  • By telephone at (202) 514-4092 or 1-877-292-3804 (toll-free)
  • By facsimile at (202) 514-8337
  • By letter to the following address:

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Educational Opportunities Section, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530
In order to properly respond to a complaint, the Section requests that complainants provide their name, address, and the name of the school/school district/university where the alleged discrimination occurred. Additional information regarding how to file a complaint is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/

 

 

 

 

  1. Federal

    United States Attorney’s Office – District of Connecticut
    New Haven Office – Headquarters

US Attorney’s Office

New Haven Office

Connecticut Financial Center

157 Church Street

Floor 25

New Haven, CT 06510

(203) 821-3700

Fax: (203) 773- 5376

* for a list of U.S. Attorneys in other states go to http://www.justice.gov/usao/us-attorneys-listing

 

  1. Connecticut:

 

Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (Connecticut)

25 Sigourney Street

Hartford, CT 06106

860/ 541-3400

Connecticut Toll Free 1-800-477-5737

TDD 860-541-3459

 

Agency Mission: The mission of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) is to eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights law enforcement and to establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons within the state through advocacy and education.

Statutory Authority: Connecticut General Statutes, Chapter 814c. Link directly to the Connecticut General Statutes at: CT General Statutes 2011

It is the statutory responsibility of the Commission to:

  • Enforce human rights laws that ban illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit transactions.
  • Monitor compliance with state contract compliance laws and with laws requiring affirmative action in state agency personnel practices.
  • Establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons in Connecticut through education and outreach activities.

 

Connecticut law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation such as schools. If students have been denied an opportunity for equal access in a place of public accommodation based on their protected class status, they may be able to file a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

 

 

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ADA National Network DISABILITY LAW HANDBOOK
Jul 26th, 2013 by

Disability law is an area of law that overlaps with many other areas of law –
including employment law, administrative law, elder law, consumer law,
construction law, insurance law, school law, health law, social security law,
and civil rights law. Individuals with disabilities are a protected class under
civil rights laws, and it is the one protected class that anyone can join,
usually involuntarily, at any point in their lives.
It is my hope that this book, which is a very broad brush look at disability
law, will find its way into the hands of both individuals who have disabilities
and entities that have obligations under various disability laws. This book is
meant to provide basic information about disability rights, as well as
resources for finding out more.

Jacquie Brennan
Attorney
Southwest ADA Center

Go to the ADA National Network DISABILITY LAW HANDBOOK

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Tips for Talking to Children About Marriage Equality
Jun 27th, 2013 by

Tips for Talking to Children About Marriage Equality

Posted by Rohmteen Mokhtari, June 26, 2013

With all the media attention on the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality rulings, some parents and teachers may initially feel a little anxious about discussing the topic with their children or students.

Sometimes talking to children about LGBT issues seem difficult, in part, because as adults we haven’t had a chance to consider what we want to say and how we would respond to questions. Often when discussing a new topic, we rely on past experiences to help us out. However, many of us don’t have much experience talking about LGBT topics. Therefore, our past experience doesn’t help us out.

Fortunately, with just a little forethought and preparation this can be a great teachable moment.

read more …………….

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Play By The Rules – Great Free Curriculum
Jun 10th, 2013 by

Play by the Rules is a promising award winning program developed by the Alabama Center for Law & Civic Education to teach law to youth to develop their sense of civic responsibility and provide them with the tools they need to prevent crime, save lives and build safer communities.

The Play by the Rules program is proudly brought to you by the Alabama Center for Law & Civic Education. This website is funded by the Young Lawyers Section of the Alabama State Bar.

See the Connecticut site.

Free copies are available to schools. The book covers many areas often faced by Title IX Coordinators, such as:

  • What is Harassment?
  • What is Bullying and is it a Crime?
  • What are My Rights as a Student?

The curriculum is being used by School Resource Officers.

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Japanese mayor: Wartime sex slaves were necessary
May 14th, 2013 by

Note: Just when you thought you heard it all. So many things wrong here.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/japanese-mayor-wartime-sex-slaves-were-necessary-042050746.html#

By MALCOLM FOSTER | Associated Press – 1 hr 3 mins ago

TOKYO (AP) — An outspoken nationalist mayor said the Japanese military’s forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to “maintain discipline” in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.

The comments made Monday are already raising ire in neighboring countries that bore the brunt of Japan’s wartime aggression and that have long complained that Japan has failed to fully atone for wartime atrocities.

Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is also co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also told reporters that there wasn’t clear evidence that the Japanese military coerced women to become what are euphemistically called “comfort women.”

“To maintain discipline in the military, it must have been necessary at that time,” said Hashimoto. “For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone.”

Full story here:
http://news.yahoo.com/japanese-mayor-wartime-sex-slaves-were-necessary-042050746.html

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