Federal Guidance Specific to Religion Based Harassment in Schools; 10/27/10

ING is pleased to call attention to federal guidelines issued in October, 2010 by the Department of Education that are specific to religion-based harassment in schools.

The guidance emphasizes that harassment related to a student’s religion can trigger a school’s responsibilities to investigate and remedy the harassment under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While Title VI does not cover discrimination based solely on religion, groups that face discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics may not be denied protection under Title VI on the ground that they also share a common faith. These principles apply to students from any discrete religious group that shares, or is perceived to share, ancestry or ethnic characteristics (e.g., Jews, Muslims, or Sikhs). Thus, harassment against students who are members of any religious group triggers a school’s Title VI responsibilities when the harassment is based on the group’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, rather than solely on its members’ religious practices. A school also has responsibilities under Title VI when its students are harassed based on their actual or perceived citizenship or residency in a country whose residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious identity. The full press release with links to the guidance is as follows:

Guidance Targeting Harassment Outlines Local and Federal Responsibility

We also encourage you to access the following new website by the Dept of Education – Bullying Info – which is a “one stop shop” for all federal resources on bullying. The site will be updated from time to time with new and additional resources for educators, students, parents and community members who are working to end bullying.

The following link also provides useful information for students and parents on steps to take to proactively prevent bullying and other forms of harassment: You Have the Power youth led program to prevent bullying