3209 Policy – Bias Incident and Hate Speech

Bellingham Public Schools believes in protecting the right of every student to be free from bias- and hate-motivated speech and behavior in our educational environments. Hate speech and behaviors have lasting and harmful impacts on our community; therefore, we will vigorously seek to heal and educate to strengthen and diversify our next generation of leaders.

This policy, and its accompanying procedure, promote empathy and compassion while augmenting district compliance with local, state and federal laws concerning harassment, intimidation, bullying, student discipline and discrimination (Policy 3205, 3207, 3210, 3211, 3241 and chapter 28A.642 RCW).

This policy provides for education and support to combat language and behaviors grounded in bias and hate targeting other individuals鈥 perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical or sensory disability. Hate speech and behaviors could include bullying, communications (verbal, visual and more) and/or physical acts which target individuals or groups.

Hate speech and behavior education will be offered by the district in a way that is accurate, age appropriate and culturally responsive for students, staff, families and the community.

No student shall engage in hate speech or behaviors that disrupt the educational environment, or that collide with the rights of others to have a learning or work environment that is safe and free of hate speech and behavior.

A bias incident refers to an expression of negative bias toward another person, relating to the other person鈥檚 perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, gender, gender expression or identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.

Hate speech and behavior includes, but is not limited to:

A. verbal, written and drawn slurs and hate symbols[1],

B. gestures connected to hate and/or

C. displays and images of hate symbols.

Anyone having knowledge of hate speech and behavior which they believe violates this policy should report the incident.[2] District administration will provide support and accountability to this policy and the accompanying procedure.

Violations of this policy will be addressed by the school and district administration in accordance with the associated district procedures, building procedures, employee guidelines and state and federal laws. Language and behavior may be subject to additional review under other policies, such as harassment, intimidation, bullying and nondiscrimination, or student conduct and student discipline (Policy 3205, 3207, 3210, 3211 and 3241). The district will protect free speech when expressions do not invade the rights of other students and/or staff.


[1] The district will reference the Anti-Defamation League鈥檚 hate symbols database as the primary resource of updated hate symbols.

[2] Reports can be made anonymously at bellinghamschools-wa.safeschoolsalert.com.

Adopted/Revised: 07/07/23
Updated: 7/7/2023
Superintendent or Board Approved: Superintendent Approved
Cross References: Content

Policy 2145 Suicide Prevention

Policy 3205 Sexual Harassment of Students Prohibited

Policy 3207聽Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying

Policy 3210听狈辞苍诲颈蝉肠谤颈尘颈苍补迟颈辞苍

Policy 3211 Gender Inclusive Schools

Policy 3241 Student Discipline

Legal References: Content

RCW 9A.36.080 Hate crime offense 鈥 Definition and criminal penalty.

RCW 28A.300.285 Harassment, intimidation and bullying prevention policies and procedures-Model policy and procedure-Training materials-Posting on web site-Rules-Advisory committee.

RCW 28A.320.127 Plan for recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students, including possible sexual abuse.

RCW 28A.320.1271 Model school district plan for recognition, initial screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students.

RCW 28A.640 Sexual Equality

RCW 28A.642 Discrimination Prohibition

Chapter 392-190 WAC Equal Educational Opportunity-Unlawful Discrimination Prohibited.

Management Resources: Content

Policy News, December 2010 Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy Strengthened

Policy News, April 2008聽Cyberbullying Policy Required

Policy News, April 2002聽Legislature Passes and Anti-Bullying Bill