Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution released

On October 1, 2018, student leaders and youth organizers from Resilience Orange County, the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, and the RYSE Center joined with YO! California, the Advancement Project, the California Department of Education, and the California Teachers Association for the official public release of the Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution. Citlali Ruiz, youth organizer with Resilience Orange County in Santa Ana, Troye Peters, youth leader with the GSA Network from Long Beach, and Jahiem Jones, Richmond Youth Organizing Team fellow with RYSE Center, were featured as keynote speakers in the launch at Advancement Project’s “Water Cooler” Birth to 12th Grade Education Conference in Sacramento, along with Glen Price, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Theresa Montaño, Vice President of the California Teachers Association. (See below for more resources on the model resolution.)

"My social experience as an immigrant here has been difficult over the past two years. I’ve had teachers make jokes about undocumented students and our school administration has not put out a message that immigrant students are welcomed," said Citlali Ruiz. "Having the State Superintendent’s Office, California Department of Education, California Teachers Association and other education organizations work with students to release the model resolution means that youth leaders are being heard, that adult leaders are responding to our needs, and that we can successfully work together to address the issues that threaten safe and welcoming schools," continued Ruiz. "I believe that all California school districts should take on this resolution, because it will show that all students can be accepted and be themselves at school."

The Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution focuses on expanding “safe haven” schools to include all students impacted by the current climate of fear, hate, and discrimination. It provides commitments for local education agencies to take action in three broad areas to proactively uplift Welcoming and Safe Schools for All Students––Safety and Protection, Supports and Services, and Affirming and Celebrating Diversity. The model resolution emerged from a successful delegation meeting of youth leaders from organizations affiliated with Youth Organize! California network with State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s office, organized by the Advancement Project and Movement Strategy Center in May 2017. Since May 2017, an ad hoc committee of youth organizations including Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network, Californians for Justice, RYSE Center, Khmer Girls in Action, Del Norte and Tribal Lands Building Healthy Communities, Resilience Orange County, Dolores Huerta Foundation, and InnerCity Struggle have worked with the Advancement Project and Movement Strategy Center to draft a model resolution on Welcoming and Safe Schools for All. The resolution highlights the experiences and needs of indigenous, African American, Latinx, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander students, undocumented, immigrant, and refugee students, transgender and LGBTQ students, Muslim and Sikh students, homeless students, English Learner students, foster youth, low-income students, students with special needs, and students impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

"My biggest issues and challenges came in elementary and middle school. Even before the climate of hate that followed the 2016 elections, there weren’t many safe spaces for me as a trans student. There was a lot of ignorance," said Troye Peters. "We need schools that create spaces for students to ask open and honest questions to be educated on the subject of different identities."

"In Richmond, we need our schools to see, hear, and recognize our different identities and address the issues that impact different students directly. For students affected by issues of racism or gender oppression, we need resources to address our needs, such as Ethnic Studies and gender neutral bathrooms," shared Jahiem Jones. "Now that we have the Welcoming and Safe Schools for All model resolution, districts across California will be able to use the example and revamp it to address their local needs and issues for welcoming and safe schools. For school districts and schools to adopt this resolution, they will actually need to put it into practice to better our schools and our communities since all students deal with ongoing issues in and outside of the school and how youth cope with their trauma."

In the coming weeks, YO! Cali and our network members will develop a resource toolkit for grassroots student, family, and community leaders to work with teachers and district leaders to develop their own versions of the model resolution. Check back on the YO! Cali website for more resources to come!

For more information, contact Jeremy Lahoud, YO! Cali Project Director, jeremy[at]caljustice.org.

Download Resources:

Welcoming and Safe Schools for All Model Resolution – Full Resolution Language

Welcoming and Safe Schools for All Model Resolution – Overview (English)

Welcoming and Safe Schools for All Model Resolution – Overview (Spanish)