Civil Rights Coalition: Time for Action on School Climate


The Leadership Conference/The Education Fund

Release Date

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference Education Fund released Civil Rights Principles for Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive School Climates” today 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 wellbeing 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,” saidMarcy 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 roadmap 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



Note: 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

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