School bullying and discrimination

If your child experiences bullying or discrimination at school, you should get involved. Learn more about responding to school bullying or discrimination.

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Understanding the Basics

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There are many types of bullying. Bullying may be:

  • Physical. Bullying may include physical harm like pushing, hitting or unwanted touching.
  • Verbal. Bullying may include mean or threatening messages, name-calling, hurtful social media posts or rumors.
  • Social discrimination. If a child is bullied because of their race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability, there are special legal protections.

Talk to the school

If your child is bullied at school or school events, you should write a letter to the school:

  • Explain that your child is being bullied. Describe the bullying incidents.
  • Be specific. Be as specific as possible. Include dates, details about each incident and the impact on your child.

You can use our form assistant to draft this letter.

Keep a record of the school’s response to each bullying incident. Remember that you have a right to review your child’s permanent records at any point. Consider asking the school for a written report of all incidents.

See whether the situation is improving. If you feel the bullying is not improving, you can ask to meet with the school to discuss a strategy to stop the bullying. The school must have a policy to address bullying.

Children who are bullied because of their of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or a disability must get special protections from the school. If your child is being bullied for one of these reasons, tell the school that the bullying is related to one of these categories. If your child has an IEP, services to stop the bullying can be added to the IEP.

If you feel that your child is in immediate danger, you should consider talking to the police in addition to contacting the school.

Discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status

Your child has the right to be treated according to their gender identity in school. Schools must use the name and pronouns that match your child’s gender identity.

If your child is being bullied because of their gender identity, you should:

  • Review the school’s non-discrimination policies. Learn the school’s gender-related discrimination rules.
  • Contact the school. Write a letter to the school principal explaining the situation. You may ask for a meeting to talk about how to prevent further bullying.

The school must take steps to end the bullying. If the school does not help stop the bullying, you may want to contact a lawyer. A lawyer can help you get the protections and support that your child needs at school.

Local Government and Community Resources

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