Bias-based incidents are dangerous and disruptive to any school community. These incidents, when they occur, can deeply challenge any school community’s climate of belonging. Keep this in mind: “A bias incident does not define a school. It is, in many ways, a test of the school’s culture and climate” (Teaching Tolerance, Responding to Bias-Based Incidents). How we plan for, address, and recover from such incidents will determine what progress we will make toward ensuring an inclusive community where respect for human differences is a lived-out core value.
What is a bias incident?
A bias incident is any biased conduct, speech or expression that has an impact but may not involve criminal action, but demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias that targets individuals or groups that are part of a federally protected class (ie. race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or disability). Bias-based behavior can also be described as when someone treats another person differently or makes an offensive comment because of their membership in a protected group, such as their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.
Examples of bias-based behaviors:
- Using a slur or insult toward a student or their family based on their membership in a protected group;
- Telling rude jokes that mock a protected group in person or through any electronic device;
- Not allowing students to participate in an activity because of their membership in a protected group;
- Disciplining a student more often or more harshly because of their membership in a protected group;
- Posting pictures of a student that make fun of them for being part of a protected group;
- Imitating someone with any kind of disability, or imitating someone’s cultural norm or language.
What is the difference between bias-based incidents and hate crimes?
Only law enforcement can determine whether something is a hate crime. Hate crimes are motivated by bias, but they also include violence, threats, or the destruction of property. Please report possible hate crimes to the police, or ask school personnel to assist you in contacting the police.
How can I report a bias-based incident?
The first step is to contact your school principal or school leadership team. These staff members will be the first point of contact, and be responsible for investigating the initial report, and making recommendations for resolution. The bias reporting form can be found here.
Why is it important to report a bias-based incident?
By reporting a bias-based incident, the appropriate personnel can respond accordingly and provide support, intervention, or education to end the behavior. In addition, reporting bias-based incidents informs systemic school supports and interventions.
Can bias be eliminated?
Bias-based incidents can be reduced and potentially eliminated with proper supports, interventions, and education. When bias occurs, the first priority is the student’s safety. If a situation arises where you feel comfortable speaking up, here are a few strategies to address bias-based behaviors:
- Share how the comment or behavior makes you feel
- Tell the person directly their comment or behavior is concerning or hurtful
- Ask the person why they made that comment or engaged in that specific behavior
To report an incident, contact the appropriate school personnel within your school or department first. As a learning community, please familiarize yourself with this guide, in order to be a first-responder, should the need arise.
As we build awareness of bias-based behaviors in our learning communities, we need to ensure that all students from Pre-K-12 have developmentally appropriate avenues for understanding what constitutes bias-based behaviors, and what systems and structures exist for reporting such incidents, and the appropriate consequences. Below are some resources on bias:
- 7 Forms of Bias
- Bias Isn’t Just a Police Problem, It’s A Preschool Problem
- Confronting Asian-American Stereotypes
- How To Overcome Our Biases?
- Implicit Bias I
- Implicit Bias II
- Implicit Bias III
- Teaching Children to Resist Bias
- ‘Whistling Vivaldi’ And Beating Stereotypes
Equity Protocol Training
For SY20-21, all WPS staff will be required to participate in an equity protocol training. Staff will be asked to document their participation through a secure sign-off. Staff will be notified when the training opens up this fall.
Reporting Bias-Based Incidents
The bias reporting form can be found here.