Preventing and Responding to Discrimination

Today, our nation and the broader international community are challenged to think more critically and strategically about the growing number of security issues caused by conflict and persecution.  These issues have largely been infiltrated by historic levels of civil conflict, particularly in the Middle East, causing influx numbers of displaced individuals fleeing violence. Subsequently, this has sparked a number of public debates, sometimes resulting in the dissemination of misinformation. As a result, there has been an increase in fear and anger across communities which have led to heightened discrimination and exclusion of individuals based on race, religion and national origin.

As a country who stands by its commitment to welcome refugees, we must be vigilant about maintaining safe, respectful and nondiscriminatory environments, particularly in school and learning settings. It is crucial for schools and district leaders to feel supported and prepared to handle incidents and behaviors that are threats to the emotional and physical safety of not only refugee students, but all students. The following list of resources provides guidance and support for teachers and school leaders implementing strategies to ensure that students are not subjected to discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, or national origin.  

Below is a list of resources.

Policy and Guidance

Dear Colleague Letter on Tolerance addresses the current difficult and complicated climate that several communities face as they work to provide protection and assistance to vulnerable individuals and families that are displaced from their homes due to conflict and persecution outside of the United States. The letter, sent by the U.S. Department of Education to superintendents across the United States, reminds districts and schools of their responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students.  How schools fulfill that responsibility is solely determined by the district or school itself, however the letter does encourage districts/schools to think about this prior to an incident.  The letter suggests several tools that the Department has learned about from university and college presidents, faculty, legal experts, and student leaders to help schools foster safe and supportive educational environment, and may be helpful to schools nationwide. 

Training for Educators

Tanenbaum Combating Religious Prejudice Education Workshops & Trainings provides interactive training for educators on a variety of topics related to teaching students concrete skills for living in a diverse, pluralistic, and democratic society. The training content is both for elementary and secondary school educators. 

Video on Harassment and Civil Rights

Bullying, Harassment, & Civil Rights helps schools, parents, and others who interact with children understand the differences between harassment and bullying, and their legal obligations with respect to both. The video was developed as part of collaboration among the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Website Providing More Resources

ING Youth Program Training and Tools for Young American Muslims provides resources and guides, including ones specific to bullying, to help increase young American Muslims’ Islamic literacy to help them respond to frequently asked questions about Islam, as well as to prevent extremism; build confidence of their Islamic identities; and inspire action towards bridge-building between American Muslims and people of other faiths.

Products for Schools and Youth Serving Organizations

  • Growing in Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying Harassment & Religious Accommodations in Schools highlights key findings from the 2012 Muslim Youth at School Survey administered to Muslim American students attending California public schools. The findings indicated that overall, Muslim students reported a healthy school environment in which they were comfortable participating in discussions about their religious identity, believed that their teachers respected their religion, and felt safe at school. The findings also indicated that there are still significant issues facing American Muslims in school such as teacher discrimination and bullying.
  • Bullying Prevention Guide features a bullying prevention guide for schools, focusing on the prevalence of bullying in general and specifically among Muslim students and bullying occurring in Muslim schools.

  • The Educational, Psychological, and Social Impact of Discrimination on the Immigrant Child focuses on incidents of direct discrimination, as perceived and noticed by the child—incidents with identifiable educational, psychological, physical, and social repercussions. While discrimination can be difficult to counteract, the report presents important reading for school personnel, highlighting a number of recommendations on how to prevent these negative interactions, through anti-bullying policies, communicating effectively with immigrant families, and carefully evaluating services targeting immigrant children. 

  •  Response and Resiliency presents a list of resources related to Assistance and support in responding and building resiliency within safe learning environments before and after a crisis. The resources are organized into three topics: prevention, recovery, and resilience.