The Trump Effect: Students and the Aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election

From November 14, 2016, through the 23rd, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project surveyed 10,000 K-12 educators from across the United States. Respondents ranged from teachers to counselors to administrators and others working in schools. The results are discouraging to say the least (the full report is available at the SPLC website or see Buzzfeed’s brief recap).

Ninety percent of respondents reported the election season having a “profoundly negative impact on schools and students. Ninety percent of educators report that school climate has been negatively affected, and most of them believe it will have a long-lasting impact. A full 80 percent describe heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families.”

Many schools also reported upticks in “verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags.” It’s also worth noting that teachers who reported hearing no xenophobic or anti-Muslim rhetoric or derogatory language “pointed out that their students belong exclusively to targeted groups. The dynamics in their schools reflect fear and anxiety about the future (and of the larger community) rather than aggressions between students or groups of students.”

Below are some of the key findings of the SPLC survey:

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

This increase in hate speech, xenophobia, and derogatory language, as well as the anxiety, fear, and heightened stress felt by targeted groups doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In just the first ten days after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded nearly 900 incidents of harassment. These attacks, whether verbal or physical, occurred in every state and Washington D.C.

A teacher in Kansas reported multiple incidents after the election: “Kids saying, ‘Trump won, you’re going back to Mexico!’ Boys grabbing girls, cornering girls against lockers. Kids yelling, ‘Trump won, so [there will] be less people here soon.’” Another teacher in California reported: “Someone anonymously put a swastika with the Trump tag line ‘Make America Great Again’ on the desk of a Spanish teacher.”

Although it often feels like we’re in a bubble here at MA, even we aren’t immune to the ramifications of the 2016 election. Two weeks ago the MA Library compiled a list of resources to help you learn more about the issues, political parties, and activism that’s worth reviewing.

Volunteering is another great way to get involved beyond hashtag activism:

American Civil Liberties Union: The ACLU has announced several concrete plans for defending American’s constitutional rights. They accept donations and also accept volunteers.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America: volunteer or donate

Campaign Zero: A new non-profit established in part by Ferguson protestors; the organization pushes for an end to police violence through community work and policy recommendations.

Council on American-Islamic Relations: CAIR is the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization that supports mutual understanding by protecting the rights of Muslim Americans and encouraging dialogue; the San Francisco Bay Area chapter offers several ways to donate and volunteer.

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund: supports disability justice through policy reform, legislative development, advocacy, and education.

LAMBDA Legal: committed to securing full rights for the queer community and those with HIV through litigation, education, and public policy work.

National Immigration Law Center: defends and advances the rights of low-income immigrants through impact litigation, advocacy, and policy reform; ways to get involved include donations, trainings, and volunteering for events.

Native American Rights Fund: offers legal defense for Native American individuals, organizations, or tribes who may otherwise be unable to secure adequate representation; accepts donations.

Planned Parenthood: the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider, education, and advocate; donate or volunteer.

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network: RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and offers programs for victims of sexual violence and also operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE); donate or volunteer.

Sierra Club: an old, grassroots environmental organization that fights for environmental protections at the local, state, and federal level; the Bay Area chapter offers many opportunities to donate or volunteer.

The Trevor Project: A national hotline (1-866-488-7386) providing suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to LGBTQIAP+ young adults ages 13-24, as well as conducting research on suicidology; donations and volunteer opportunities available.


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