In 2018, the number of hate crimes in America were the highest they had been in 16 years, according to an annual report released by the FBI.
This uptick in incidents of hate and bias can have profound effects on young people. However, an anti-bias campaign for K-12 schools has the potential to not only mitigate young people’s fears, but also help them cultivate a strong sense of belonging in their school communities.
ADL, formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League, launched the No Place for Hate campaign in 1999. It offers an organizing framework for creating a more equitable school climate and helps leaders complete a series of steps to earn the official “No Place for Hate” designation.
Undertaking a yearlong, school-wide effort to tackle issues of bias and discrimination may feel intimidating, but No Place for Hate is about creating safe spaces for students to do the work, according to ADL. Moreover, the organization’s materials — including an abundance of online resources — guide educators through every step of the process.
More than 1,600 K-12 schools currently participate in No Place for Hate. Institutions looking to join the campaign can register on ADL’s website to receive all necessary materials, then complete the following steps:
- Assemble a committee of faculty, staff, administrators, and family members to lead the initiative.
- As a community, sign ADL’s Resolution for Respect.
- Design and execute three school-wide activities that get students thinking more deeply about how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues play out in their lives and environment.
- Submit proof of taking these actions in the form of activity forms, photos, videos, pledge signatures, and more.
Developing Activities on Bias and Social Justice
Campaign activities can revolve around a range of DEI topics, including bias, bullying, identity and culture, school climate, and social justice.
ADL provides educators with a helpful set of “do’s and don’ts” for designing No Place for Hate activities. Students should be involved in both their planning and the execution, as student ownership of the campaign is essential to the program’s effectiveness, according to ADL.
The organization also emphasizes that all activities should involve active learning tasks, such as discussion, as opposed to passive learning formats. Campaign activities should be scheduled throughout the academic year to allow students and community members time for reflection.
One of ADL’s sample activities for middle and upper school students is an Instagram campaign inspired by the popular “Humans of New York” photo series. The activity involves interviewing and photographing individual members of the school community to highlight their unique identities, backgrounds, and cultures.
A recommended activity for younger students is the creation of an “ally collage.” Classes should discuss bullying and what being an ally looks like, then have each student select one ally behavior that they will personally commit to. Students complete drawings representing these commitments, which teachers then turn into a school-wide collage that is displayed prominently on campus.
To learn more about activity guidelines and sample lessons, check out ADL’s No Place for Hate Coordinator Handbook & Resource Guide.
Ginger O’Donnell is the assistant editor of DiversityIS.