School discipline policies have been under heightened scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education because of the disparate impact they have on students of color. Data released last spring by the Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, revealed that rigid school discipline policies—which lead to suspensions and expulsions of students for even the most minor offenses—perpetuate a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately criminalizes students of color and students with disabilities.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released “Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide For Improving School Climate and Discipline,” the first time federal agencies have offered legal guidelines to address and reduce racial discrimination and disproportionality in schools. This guidance makes tremendous strides in reporting on the stark racial disparities in school discipline, however, missing from this groundbreaking work are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth—who are also disproportionately affected by harsh school discipline policies—due to the dearth of data to illuminate their experiences.
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