GSCA Position Statement: Divisive Concepts Bill
This position statement was developed in opposition to HB 1084 and SB 377 which were introduced during the 2022 legislative session.
The Georgia School Counselor Association supports school counselors in Georgia as they promote student success. Georgia school counselors are advocates, leaders, collaborators, and consultants working with all stakeholders to provide equitable educational access and success for all students. School counselors develop and implement programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion for students regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic background, English proficiency, faith, socioeconomic status, family composition, or disability. School counselors demonstrate their belief and their ethical responsibility that all students have the ability to learn by advocating for an education system that provides optimal learning environments for all students (ASCA, 2016).
The Georgia School Counselor Association believes that all students have the right to:
- be respected, be treated with dignity and have access to a comprehensive school counseling program that advocates for and affirms all students from diverse populations.
- receive the information and support needed to move toward self-determination, self-development, and affirmation within one’s group identities. Special care is given to improve overall educational outcomes for students who have been historically underserved in educational services (ASCA, 2016).
School counselors work to ensure students feel accepted, valued, and learn critical skills preparing them to contribute to a diverse society, just as their students’ parents/guardians do. Legislation and policies that propose censorship in Georgia classrooms would not only hinder school counselors ability to be true advocates, collaborators, leaders, and consultants, it would also hinder our students' value, acceptance, and future preparation. Without honest and authentic discussions around history and our students’ current diverse lived experiences, some of our most vulnerable and marginalized students begin to see themselves and those like them erased from the fabric of our nation and world, contributing to lower self-worth and dignity as well as disengagement from their education due to lack of connection and relevancy in the content. In addition, all students would be limited in their knowledge and understanding of the diverse society to which they are being asked to contribute, hindering their skills of empathy, collaboration, conflict resolution, and critical thinking skills. Legislation and policies that propose censorship in Georgia classrooms are contradictory to evidenced best practices that create supportive, welcoming, and safe school communities for all students. In addition, legislation and policies that also censors the professional development of educators in these areas, creates buildings of educators without the tools and skills needed to ensure that every student has a classroom where they can thrive and build upon their cultural and social assets.
School counselors will continue to champion for authentic, honest, and affirming educational settings by opposing censorship within schools on the grounds that it is contrary to professional ethical standards of school counselors, harmful to the emotional wellbeing and prosocial development of students, and detrimental to the academic success and postsecondary readiness of all students.