Affordable Housing Crisis in the US

Throughout its history, the United States has perpetuated a double standard in regard to international human rights by urging other nations to protect and promote these rights, while simultaneously forgoing international human rights treaties in favor of its own Constitution and domestic human rights laws. Notably, the United States does not recognize one of the fundamental rights introduced by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and contained in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: The right to adequate housing. Failure to recognize housing as a human or constitutional right has led to a worsening affordable housing crisis in the United States. Domestic policy has proven insufficient to combat this crisis, and the United States must adopt a different approach for resolution. This article by Maria Massimo, argues that state governments should borrow from international human rights treaties and foreign housing law, and recognize housing as a justiciable right in an attempt to mitigate the affordable housing crisis. States can best ensure a right to housing by including housing as a right in their respective constitutions and creating oversight bodies to promote and protect this new constitutional right.

>> Read article

Discriminatory Policies at the Summer Olympics

From  The Moment by Learning for Justice

From a policy banning swim caps designed for natural Black hair to a ruling that several Black women can’t compete because of naturally high testosterone levels, some Olympic policies reflect stereotypes and discriminatory dress codes that many Black girls and women face in schools. As you prepare for next school year, check out these resources from Learning for Justice to help you assess your school’s dress code, advocate for inclusion, and check that you don’t reinforce harmful stereotypes about women and women athletes.

>> Learn more and access resource

Cancel Student Loan Debt

No matter who we are or how much we make, we should all have the opportunity to learn without limits. But the astronomical cost of higher education—even public higher education—forces many students to either forego their dreams or be trapped in a lifetime of debt. But the student debt crisis is not accidental—it is working exactly as designed by lawmakers, banks, and loan servicers. Immediate and broad cancellation of federal student loan debt is a necessary step to ensure we all can thrive—no exceptions.

Urge Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to take immediate action to cancel both the student loan debt of public service workers with at least 10 years of service and $50,000 in student debt for all other federal loans.

>> Take Action

Drumbeat 2021: The US Human Rights Network Virtual Gathering

EVENT DETAILS: 
When: September 1-3, 2021
Where: Live Stream
Cost: FREE

Description:

The theme of this year’s USHRN National Gathering, DRUM BEAT 21, is: “Human Rights Here! Human Rights Now!”, circling up not only all our people but our interconnected issues, with a human rights framework and racial justice lens. It’s fitting that DRUM BEAT 21 aligns with the 20th anniversary month of the World Conference in Durban, South Africa, and a current moment in time when the eyes of the world are on law enforcement’s role in ongoing Black and Indigenous genocide, extraction, and exploitation – across the U.S. and all around the globe.

DRUM BEAT 21 will bring member direct-action campaigns’ learnings to the forefront, exploring how each has benefited from applying 1) human rights principles to its internal workings, and 2) international standards and mechanisms to hold their targets to account for minding human rights priorities in policies, budgets, and practices. We will leave with stronger shared analysis, language, tools, and energy for supporting each other’s human rights demands, and living human rights every day, unequivocally.

>> Learn more and register

Guide: Protecting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Public Education

Access to public education is a right afforded to all children, regardless of a child’s or guardian’s citizenship, immigration status, or English language proficiency. These rights were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe.

This new guide from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Protecting Immigrant Students’ Rights to a Public Education: A Guide for Advocates, offers information and recommendations that educators, caregivers, and other trusted adults can use to ensure that their school or district is meeting its legal responsibility to ELLs and immigrant students and families. 

Designed to share with families and available in multiple languages, an accompanying pamphlet offers overviews of this information, easy-to-use reference lists, and links to further resources. You can check out all of the new resources for educators and caregivers here.

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Roots and Shoots

Roots & Shoots was founded by Jane Goodall, DBE in 1991, with the goal of bringing together youth from preschool to university age to work on environmental, conservation, and humanitarian issues.  Educators can join their Roots & Shoots global community, and get access to a variety of resources to nurture the next generation of compassionate change-makers and leaders with 21st-century learning skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, empathy, and collaboration. The Roots & Shoots model and curriculum guides students through the 4-Step Formula to identify projects, grow compassionate traits, and teach skills to cultivate a generation of change-makers. The program also offers From mini-grants and online courses for teachers. 

>> View resource

Take the GLSEN National School Climate Survey

The 2021 National School Climate Survey is GLSEN’s twelfth national survey of LGBTQ+ youth. It is a crucial tool in GLSEN’s mission for fighting anti-LGBTQ+ bias in K-12 schools across the nation. The information gathered from this survey will help GLSEN to inform education policymakers and the public about the right of all students to be treated with respect in their schools. Many students in the past have also used the survey information to advocate with their teachers and principals for safer schools for LGBTQ+ students.

Who can take the survey: If you attended high school or middle school sometime during the last school year (2020-2021), identify as LGBTQ+, and are at least 13 years old, tell us about your experiences in school! You are eligible to take this survey if you attended school online, or in person, or a combination of the two. You are also eligible even if you attended school for only part of the year. The survey is completely anonymous.

>> Take the survey

Join the HRE USA Steering Committee

Help shape the future of human rights education. 

Nominate yourself or a colleague to join our Steering Committee. Our rules call for the election every summer of new Steering Committee members to replace retiring members. This year there are 2 open seats to be filled, and we invite all members to make nominations for their replacements. You may nominate anyone who fits the criteria for membership and can fulfill the responsibilities of Steering Committee members, including nominating yourself!

Brief biographies of current Steering Committee members can be viewed here. A ballot will be sent to all HRE USA members in July.

Elected Steering Committee members will serve a three-year term beginning in August 2021.

DEADLINE: TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2021

>> Learn more
>> Nomination form

For further inquiries, please contact Kristi Rudelius-Palmer

Human Rights and the Climate Crisis

By the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force

As part of HRW Student Task Force’s (STF) advocacy to transition high schools across Southern California to 100% renewable energy, commit to energy efficiency plans, and engage in climate justice education, the STF hosted over 150 students, teachers, administrators, and community members at the “Human Rights and the Climate Crisis” Virtual Town Hall on Earth Day 2021.

“The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation and we are at a monumental moment,” said one STF representative. “We are protecting our human rights to life, liberty, and personal security, to survival and development, and our right to health, to clean water – and a future! We are demanding public officials take action to protect our human rights and fight climate change.”

Students representing 18 high schools shared their personal climate stories, illustrating how climate change is impacting their lives. Several had experienced fire-threat evacuations and pollution-induced asthma, which further motivates them to take action. STF leaders also described using HRW’s methodology “Investigate, Expose, Change” to frame their advocacy as they engage school administrators and public officials.

Featured speaker, Christos Chrysiliou, LAUSD’s Director of Architectural and Engineering Services for the Facilities Division, discussed LAUSD’s steps to increase its energy and water efficiency, improve sustainability, and engage students in the decision-making process. “We cannot achieve all the things that we’re doing without your [students’] help… We need you in the process,” Mr. Chrysiliou said, “because that’s the only way to fight climate change.” Afterward, attendees participated in a spirited Q&A session with Mr. Chrysiliou. (Listen at 47:43 on the recording.)

Closing STF student speaker, Nathalia Wyss, quoted Greta Thunberg: “Act like your house is on fire, because it is – continue to take action against climate change and inform others, and please, keep fighting to turn our schools green.”

>> Learn more about the HRW Student Task Force
>> View the “Human Rights and the Climate Crisis” Virtual Town Hall
>> Download the Human Rights and Climate Crisis Toolkit