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Know Your Rights, RI Students!

 

IF YOU ARE A PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO

  • To be safe in school without being bullied or harassed by other students, teachers, or staff
  • To be protected from discrimination based on your sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status
  • To access information about LGBTQ subjects, including educational website
  • To free speech and expression, including the right to express ideas respectfully that may offend others, and to disagree with others
  • To dress and present yourself in a manner consistent with your gender identity
  • To use the bathroom and locker room consistent with your gender identity
  • To take a date of any gender to prom

Your school must provide you equal access to and allow you to participate on equal terms in all school programs, including extracurricular activities and sports.

Your school must keep you safe from bullying, harassment and violence by teachers, staff, or other students.

Federal law also protects you from discrimination at school

You are protected from discrimination in public schools or other schools that receive federal funding because of Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law, and it prohibits discrimination based on sex – including sexual orientation or gender identity – across the country.

Note: There are some exemptions for educational facilities owned or operated by religious corporations, associations, or societies.

Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Resources for LGBTQI+ Students page for more information on what you can do if you experience discrimination

BULLYING IS DEFINED AS:

An act (verbal, written, or electronic) directed against a student by another student or a group of students that:

  • is repeated over time
  • is intended to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate
  • substantially interferes with a student’s right to a safe education regardless of whether it happens on or off school ground

IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES, INSTANCES OF RACE-BASED AND SEX-BASED BULLYING CAN CREATE A HOSTILE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT 

A hostile school environment exists when verbal, written, visual or physical conduct (including by electronic means) by another student or school employee is:

  • sexual in nature and/or race-based
  • sufficiently severe and pervasive
  • compromises or interferes with educational opportunities normally available to students

Your school must have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies, and each year you and your parents or guardians must be given notice of those policies.

NOTE: Rhode Island’s anti-bullying law also applies to some private schools. Check your school’s handbook for your school’s policy.

You have the right to be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity.

Schools must respect your gender identity, including allowing you to dress and present yourself in a manner consistent with your gender identity.

You have the right to form LGBTQ-focused extracurricular groups, such as a Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) on the same terms and with the same privileges and resources as all other school groups.

You have the right to free speech and expression, including the right to discuss LGBTQ issues and to respectfully express ideas with which others may disagree.

You have the right to learn about LGBTQ issues and must have access to information and resources about LGBTQ issues and people, including educational websites.

Visit this website for guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT:

  • To be protected from discrimination based on your sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, or HIV status in housing, employment, and public accommodations
  • To give your own consent to get tested for HIV without parental permission, if you think you may have been exposed to it
  • To report to the police anyone in or out of school who physically harms you, threatens you, or vandalizes your property

How to Legally Change Your Name:

  • Fill out a Change of Name form, get it notarized, and submit it with your birth certificate and state background check (BCI Report) to your probate court
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality provides Rhode Island-specific information to help minors change their names.

How to Legally Change Your Gender Marker:

 

RESOURCES FOR LGBTQ YOUTH:

Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) – LGBTQ Youth Services

LGBT National Youth Talkline (800) 246-PRIDE

GET MORE INFORMATION AND LEGAL HELP

For more information about your rights and protections, and for referrals, you can contact GLAD Answers, GLAD’s free & confidential legal information line. Your LGBTQ and HIV legal rights resource!

June 2020