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State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Department of Education
Shepard Building
255 Westminster Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903-3400

Telephone: 401-277-4600
Fax: 401-277-6178
TTY: 800-745-5555
Voice: 800-745-6575

TO: Superintendents

FROM: Peter McWalters, Commissioner

RE: Board of Regents Policy Statement on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education recognizes that full access of all people and groups to educational opportunities and full participation in educational experiences should be the policy and practice of educational agencies. All individuals and groups must be afforded the opportunity to participate fully and thereby reach their maximum potential. Barriers to student participation which are based on sexual orientation must be identified and removed.

Certain students, because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, have been subject to discrimination through abuse, harassment, or exclusion from full participation in educational activities. These conditions undermine the goals of Civil Rights activities in education; i.e., to remove barriers, promote nondiscrimination and support the provision of equal educational opportunities. The Board also recognizes that all students, without exception, have the right to come to school and feel safe.

Therefore, it is the Policy of the Board of Regents that no student shall be excluded from, discriminated against, or harassed in any educational program, activity or facility in a public school on account of sexual orientation or perception of same. The policy shall apply to admissions, guidance, recreational and extra-curricular activities as well as all public educational programs and activities.

Each local school district is urged to review programs, services and activities to assure that such offerings are conducted in a manner that is free of inadvertent or intentional bias. Each local school district is also urged to prohibit harassment based on sexual orientation through the development and enforcement of appropriate student and staff behavior and disciplinary policies.

Staff of the Rhode Island Department of Education will be available to assist school districts in the development and implementation of appropriate policies consistent with the Regents' Policy Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation.