Despite equity policies, St. Paul students say too many feel unwelcome at school

Dec 18, 2016 by

Student leaders say St. Paul’s public schools would be more welcoming if the school board were to rewrite dress codes, change the names of select buildings, and train its largely white staff how to interact with students from different cultures.

The district adopted a racial equity policy in 2013 and a gender inclusion policy last year, but members of the Student Engagement and Advancement Board say school environments have not improved for marginalized groups.

In a recent presentation to the school board, they said about half of transgender and gender-nonconforming students reported they’ve been negatively affected by school dress codes.

And students of color too often are asked to speak on behalf of their identity, they said, or feel like they don’t belong in a particular class or school activity.

Serena Jing, a Central High School senior, said she’s sometimes asked to weigh in on issues related to China or Asia. She said it makes her feel different from her classmates and discourages her from participating.

The 13-member group, which serves to amplify student voices in school board decisions, made five recommendations:

  • Establish a tool for students to report concerns about their schools.
  • Eliminate or revise gendered dress codes.
  • Train staff and students on micro-aggressions and cultural humility.
  • Establish inclusive physical spaces in each school.
  • Change the names of schools that honor people who have violated human rights.

Source: Despite equity policies, St. Paul students say too many feel unwelcome at school – Twin Cities

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