Record number of students reached by HRC’s anti-bullying program this year

Headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Adam Fagen on Flickr)

The Human Rights Campaign’s Welcoming Schools program reached a record 750,000 students in fiscal year 2024 — supporting communities that are contending with the dramatic rise, in recent years, of anti-LGBTQ harassment and reported hate crimes in schools.

Data on the expanded reach of HRC’s pre-K-12 anti-bullying program, now in its 16th year, was included in the group’s fourth annual Welcoming Schools report, released on Tuesday.

“Welcoming Schools has continued to serve as a beacon, providing accessible training, resources, and actionable policies and practices at a time when proposals for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation specifically targeting our youth is at a devastatingly high level,” the group’s president, Kelley Robinson, said in the report’s introduction.

A third of the more than 550 anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced across the U.S. last year have targeted LGBTQ inclusion in classrooms, disproportionately impacting transgender and gender-expansive youth, HRC noted in a press release announcement.

The “unsurprising result” of these legislative attacks, the organization wrote, has been a documented rise in bullying and harassment encountered by queer youth in educational settings.

According to an analysis of FBI statistics reported in March by the Washington Post, “the number of hate crimes on K-12 campuses” in states with restrictive laws “has more than quadrupled since the onset of a divisive culture war that has often centered on the rights of LGBTQ+ youth.”

The paper also found that “calls to LGBTQ+ youth crisis hotlines have exploded, with some advocates drawing a connection between the political climate and the spike in bullying and hate crimes.”

And in a survey published in November by HRC and the University of Connecticut, nearly 60 percent of LGBTQ teens reported that they had experienced bullying in school over their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cheryl Greene, senior director of the Welcoming Schools program, said in the press release that “this work across local school districts is crucial to the success of our kids in school, especially as we’ve seen and heard from families who are uprooting their lives and moving states just to find more accepting, inclusive environments.”

“Our 2024 annual report showcases the tremendous impact of our trainings and resources in fostering environments where all students can thrive,” she said.

Robinson highlighted that Welcoming Schools’ “latest initiatives showcase our commitment to expanding opportunities for secondary-level training, making resources more accessible through Spanish translation, and embracing the power of e-learning.”

This year, the program’s ninth annual National Day of Reading was titled, “A Celebration of Stories Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Youth” saw 36,000 participants and reached 130,000 people on social media.

According to the report, “Since 2011, Welcoming Schools has trained educators in all 50 States, plus D.C., Aruba, Bahamas, Denmark, El Salvador, Germany, Honduras, Mexico, Qatar, Taiwan, and Uganda.”

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