What is bias-based behavior?

  • Bias-based behavior is when someone treats a student differently or makes an offensive comment because of their membership in a protected group, such as their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

    Examples of bias-based behaviors:

    • Using a slur or insult towards a student or their family based on their membership in a protected group;
    • Telling rude jokes that mock a protected group in person or through any electronic device;
    • Not allowing students to participate in an activity because of their membership in a protected group;
    • Disciplining a student more often or more harshly because of their membership in a protected group;
    • Posting pictures of a student that make fun of them for being part of a protected group;
    • Imitating someone with any kind of disability, or imitating someone’s cultural norm or language.

    What is the difference between bias-based incidents and hate crimes?

    Only law enforcement can determine whether something is a hate crime. Hate crimes are motivated by bias, but they also include violence, threats, or the destruction of property. Please report possible hate crimes to the police, or ask school personnel to assist you in contacting the police.

    How can I report a bias-based incident?

    To discuss a concern with the Boston Public Schools Office of Equity, please call or email us. Our phone number is 617-635-9650 and our email is bpsequity@bostonpublicschools.org. Student concerns can also be sent to our office through the Boston Student Advisory Council web-based grievance form available at www.bostonstudentrights.org. 

    Why is it important to report a bias based incident?

    By reporting a bias-based incident, the appropriate personnel can respond accordingly and provide support, intervention, or education to end the behavior. In addition, reporting bias-based incidents informs systemic school supports and interventions. 

    Can bias be eliminated?

    Bias-based incidents can be reduced and potentially eliminated with proper supports, interventions, and education. When bias occurs, the first priority is the student's safety. If a situation arises where you feel comfortable speaking up, here are a few strategies to address bias-based behaviors:

    • Share how the comment or behavior makes you feel
    • Tell the person directly their comment or behavior is concerning or hurtful
    • Ask the person why they made that comment or engaged in that specific behavior

    If you witness bias-based behavior:

    • Let the impacted person know you are there to listen and provide support
    • Assist the person to get support from a trusted adult or to report the incident to an administrator

    To report an incident, contact the appropriate school personnel within your district. For Boston Public School students and guardians, please contact the Office of Equity for assistance.  Our phone number is 617-635-9650 and our email is bpsequity@bostonpublicschools.org.