Students who are LGBTQ/gender non-conforming (GNC) experience disproportionate discrimination, harassment, and harsh discipline in school compared to their peers who are straight and cisgender. These factors increase the risk of youth who are LGBTQ/GNC being pushed out of school and becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. While school districts in the Greater Philadelphia region have begun to address these challenges, continued state and local training and knowledge-sharing are needed to ensure LGBTQ/GNC students’ rights to an equal education free from discrimination.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Lizzy Wingfield worked with the Education Law Center to raise awareness and support for LGBTQ/GNC youth to improve their educational outcomes. Lizzy partnered with stakeholders to decrease exclusionary discipline practices, discriminatory incidents, and other educational barriers affecting these students.
This Emerging Leader Fellowship enabled Lizzy to:
- Conduct research and information gathering, including listening sessions with and direct legal representation of LGBTQ/GNC youth.
- Lead trainings for LGBTQ/GNC youth about their educational rights and for education professionals about how to reduce discrimination and exclusionary discipline practices in schools.
- Promote greater awareness of this issue among key stakeholders and advocate for state and local policy improvements.