NEW OCR RESOURCE: CIVIL RIGHTS "RESOURCE BINDERS" FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL
September 14, 2021
Today, the Office for Civil Rights released two resource collections—or virtual “resource binders”—to assist elementary schools, secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions in supporting a successful and equitable school year. Especially at this back-to-school time, we encourage you to read and share Back to School: Supporting Educational Environments Free from Discrimination: A Resource Collection for Elementary and Secondary Schools and Back to School: Supporting Educational Environments Free from Discrimination: A Resource Collection for Postsecondary Institutions.
Both resource collections—one for elementary and secondary schools and the other for postsecondary institutions—contain fact sheets, Q&As, letters to educators and school leaders, and other materials about institutions’ responsibilities to provide educational environments free from discrimination under the federal civil rights laws enforced by OCR.
The collections are organized into sections focused on 1) race, color, and national origin discrimination; 2) discrimination based on disability; and 3) sex discrimination. The elementary and secondary schools binder also includes a section on the Civil Rights Data Collection. Among other resources, the collections highlight:
- Confronting COVID-19-Related Harassment in Schools: A Resource for Families. In May, OCR and DOJ issued a joint resource for students and families with information on schools’ obligations to address discrimination, including harassment, targeting students because of their race or national origin.
- Questions and Answers on Civil Rights and School Reopening in the COVID-19 Environment. In May, OCR published a Questions and Answers resource to help students, families, schools and the public support all students’ rights in educational environments in K-12 and postsecondary institutions.
- Questions and Answers on the Title IX Regulations on Sexual Harassment. In July, OCR released a Questions and Answers resource explaining how OCR interprets schools’ obligations under the 2020 amendments to the Title IX regulations.
- Confronting Anti-LGBTQI+ Harassment in Schools: A Resource for Students and Families. In June, OCR and DOJ issued a joint fact sheet explaining that discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by federal law. The fact sheet also provides examples of the kinds of incidents OCR and DOJ can investigate and includes information on what a student can do if they experience discrimination at school.
- Dear Colleague Letter on Retaliation. The Dear Colleague letter explains that Title VI prohibits retaliating against any person to interfere with their rights under Title VI or because they made a complaint, testified, or participated in any way in an OCR investigation or proceeding.
We also encourage all educators, staff, and school leaders to review our recent report, Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students. The report bears witness to the many ways in which the pandemic has widened existing disparities in educational opportunity, particularly for students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ students.
The collections include many OCR resources but is not exhaustive. You can find additional information, including both resource collections, on OCR’s website. We will update the online version of the collections periodically as OCR issues additional resources and guidance.
We hope you find these resource collections to be helpful. As students across the country return to classrooms and campuses, OCR remains committed to supporting elementary schools, secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions in meeting students’ needs.
Suzanne B. Goldberg
Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education