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Student Belonging

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Research demonstrates that students who feel like they belong in school, and have positive relationships with peers and school staff, will perform better in school.


Positive school climates are necessary for students to feel safe, accepted, and connected to their school environments. A positive school climate relies on several factors including school-based mental health resources, language access resources, and accepting environments for students of any race, ethnicity, gender, and income bracket.

Students in Virginia have increasingly identified mental health concerns as well as fear and bullying in their schools. Policies that threaten gender expression and critical thinking about race and history have been constantly in the news. Voices supports policies that will make schools better prepared to support all students and will keep bullying, othering, and law enforcement out of schools.

We believe that young people are the experts in their own lives and should lead the way towards services and resources that best meet their needs. We believe young people should be in positions of leadership and engage with lawmakers and decisionmakers in their schools and communities, such as the young people engaged in Virginia Youth in Action.


Our Priorities:

  1. Ensure schools have resources to support wraparound services in schools meeting students’ health and mental health needs and fostering connections with peers and peer leaders.
  2. Oppose efforts that make students feel that they do not belong in school, such as close connections between law enforcement and schools, policies designed to treat groups of students by separate guidelines or rules, and policies increasing suspension and expulsion.
  3. Support additional resources for students learning English by increasing the ratio of ELL instructors to students.
  4. Support the civic engagement and civic participation of youth and young adults.

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Track legislative progress via our 2023 Bill Tracker.

Voices is a member of the Fund Our Schools Coalition.

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For more information, contact Kristin Lennox.