History and Philosophy of the Civil Rights Team Project
The foundation of the Civil Rights Team Project is the Maine Civil Rights Act, which protects people from threats, property damage, and violence when motivated by bias.
Early enforcement efforts of the Maine Civil Rights Act revealed that many violations involve young people and happen in our schools.
In an effort to reduce the frequency of these behaviors, and their impact on young people and our school communities, the Maine Office of the Attorney General created the Civil Rights Team Project. The CRTP launched as a pilot project in 18 schools in 1996. Initial efforts focused on education about the civil rights law and increasing communication and collaboration between schools and law enforcement.
The Civil Rights Team Project has since grown: in focus and participation. To prevent bias-based behaviors, including violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act, we believe it is important to engage our school communities in thinking and talking about issues related to race and skin color, national origin and ancestry, religion, disabilities, gender (including gender identity and expression) and sexual orientation. Youth are central to this process; real change in our schools must respect and include student voices.
Hundreds of Maine schools, at all age levels, public and private, rural and urban, and in all sixteen counties, have participated in the Civil Rights Team Project. More than 150 schools are currently participating.