2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jalise Burt

Jalise Burt

Name of Host Organization: New York Civil Liberties Union
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Gay/Lesbian Rights
Sponsors: Kramer Levin

The Project

Jalise provided representation to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming students in New York City facing school suspensions, and advocated for their equal access to education.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Too often, the heightened visibility of LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth attracts unjustified negative attention. In schools, this negative attention can manifest in destructive bullying situations and in teachers’ biases. Both circumstances can lead to increased contact with school discipline and school police, which can ultimately lead to dropping out. Additionally, because students in NYC schools are overwhelmingly youth of color, many of these LGBTQ/GNC students occupy a doubly marginalized status. The 40,000-100,000 LGBTQ students in NYC public schools need an advocate to stand up, for their rights and to end policies that lead to disproportionate discipline and the school-to-prison pipeline.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Jalise has:
• Advocated for reform of school climate and discipline policies to administrative agencies and legislators.
• Represented six students in school suspension matters and provided advice and “Know Your Rights” materials, to many more students and families.
• Developed and administered trainings, for school staff and advocates on removing barriers, to education for LGBTQ and gender nonconforming students.
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Jalise plans to:
• Serve as a law clerk, to Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis of the U.S. District Court, for the Southern District of New York.

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