I often think about bullying prevention and intervention programs and why these programs don’t see high success rates over time. I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising. It’s hard to create a program that will be successful across different groups of people. I always go back to the idea that we need strong role models kids can look up to. We need to have well-known organizations and leaders show their support for equality. I like to believe that if organizations and leaders do this, over time, messages of equality will become the accepted norm.
My thoughts on this topic stem from the most recent Boy Scouts of America controversy. There has been talk that the Boy Scouts may be reversing their ban on gay members. The NY Times actually had a really great article on the topic last week, which you can find here. Wouldn’t this be a massive step in the right direction? Continuing discrimination against a group of humans will not stop LGBT bullying and harassment. Ellen DeGeneres had a fantastic monologue on the Boy Scouts the other day that I had to share.
I believe that if the Boy Scouts are going to continue to be leaders in this country, they should be responsible for promoting equality and condemning discrimination. Stand up for your fellow man and neighbor, regardless of their sexual/gender identity. A person is a person. A man is a man. A neighbor is a neighbor.
Let us keep Jesse Jeffers in our thoughts. Upon arriving home on February 3rd, this teenager from Florida found his residence covered in spray-painted hateful, anti-gay vandalism. Fearful of future attacks, Jesse has now moved in with his mother for the time being.
Jesse has faced anti-gay harassment since middle school. He told news reporters that he has tried to ignore it, but this time it seems as though the harassment went too far. Luckily for Jesse, a church and other members of the community have offered to help Jesse clean off the spray-paint.
There is absolutely no excuse for hate crimes or discrimination. This shouldn’t even need to be stated. No one should be ashamed of who they are and a teenager certainly should not be afraid to return home because of a heinous hate crime. Jesse, hang in there.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attended the Connecticut LGBT Expo in South Windsor, Connecticut hosted by Unity of Greater Hartford. I went as both a board member and the Volunteer Coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Connecticut chapter. My jobs were to talk with people about GLSEN, who we are and what we do, and also to hand out GLSEN materials. It was so much fun for me because I got to mingle with visitors, hang out with Alberto, one of the other board members, and two of our chapter’s student leaders, AND I also learned a ton. Going to this expo was such a great experience because I had the opportunity to hear about a number of LGBTQ-focused national- and state-based organizations. It was also totally inspiring to talk with other people immersed in human rights and equality. What a great way to spend a weekend!
If you’re like me at all and perhaps a little unfamiliar with the various LGBTQ organizations around, I thought it might be helpful to share a bit about the organizations I was introduced to. I’ll link to their sites if you’d like to get involved or learn more about their missions. Not to mention, the following organizations are terrific resources.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG): PFLAG is a nation-wide organization with over 200,000 members. Families, friends, and other supporters of the LGBT community work together to promote diversity and equality. Their mission statement reads: PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. Click here to learn more about PFLAG.
True Colors (Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services): True Colors is an amazing organization which works with social agencies, schools, within communities, and other organizations to ensure the needs of LGBT youth are recognized and met. True colors was founded in Connecticut by social worker, Robin McHaelen, after she graduated from UCONN’s social work department. Other than raising awareness and working directly with LGBT youth, True Colors trains over 2400 people a year, runs the state’s largest LGBT mentoring program, and annually hosts the largest LGBTQ conference in the country. If you would like to get involved with this organization, go to their website here.
Stonewall Speakers: Stonewall Speakers is a speaking group out of the Connecticut Stonewall Foundation, Inc. The speakers are a group of volunteers who donate their time to talk to schools, businesses, and trainings about issues concerning LGBT rights. These amazing volunteers, comprised of gays, lesbians, transgendered, and allies work together to reduce violence and bias against the LGBT community. This foundation was created in 1988 as a result of the brutal murder of an openly gay Wethersfield, CT man. In the words of the Stonewall Speakers: The Connecticut Stonewall Foundation, Inc. increases understanding, acceptance and respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through educational outreach. To learn more about this organization or if you are a Connecticut resident and would like to become a speaker, please click here to go their website.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Connecticut Chapter: GLSEN is a national organization, but also runs through individual state chapters. Much like the other organizations present that day, GLSEN represents the LGBT community. What distinguishes GLSEN, however, is their focus to ensure schools are safe places for ALL students, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. GLSEN not only works directly with LGBT youth and their allies through both the Student Organizing Team and Gay-Straight Alliances, they also conduct trainings and research, and strongly influence public policy. The mission of GLSEN reads: The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community. To learn more about the GLSEN and how you can get involved, please click here. If you are located in Connecticut and would like to go directly to the GLSEN Connecticut page, click here.
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to the incredibly talented, Andrea Paquin, who provided us with music and entertainment throughout the expo. She’s awesome and you should check out her music. :)
DEADLINE EXTENDED: APPLICATIONS NOW DUE OCTOBER 15, 2012!
Welcome to our chapter’s student organizing page! You’ll be able to access our Jump-Start application and learn more about joining our chapter’s empowering student organizing coalition.
WHY JOIN OUR CHAPTER’S STUDENT ORGANIZING COALITION?
- Are you a middle or high school student dedicated to preventing LGBT-related bullying/harassment at your school?
- Are you determined to make your school a more inclusive and equitable place for LGBT students of color and their allies?
- Do you seek to improve the climate of your school through empowering your peers to create social change?
Put your passion for safe schools advocacy into action! Apply now to join our chapter’s Jump-Start Student Leadership Coalition!
JUMP-START STUDENT LEADERSHIP TEAM Our Jump-Start Student Leadership Team is composed of bright, energetic, and dedicated student leaders from all across the state who are committed
to making their schools safer for ALL students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. For the first time, the team will be accepting middle school as well as high school students (Gr. 6-12). Middle School students are very encouraged to apply!
STUDENTS OF COLOR ORGANIZING (SOCO) TEAM Our Jump-Start Student Leadership Team has recently partnered with our chapter’s newly formed Students of Color Organizing (SOCO) Team, which focuses on providing increased visibility, support, and advocacy for LGBT students of color and their allies. The SOCO team is working on a year-long website project that seeks to create a safer and more inclusive space for all LGBT students of color and their allies. If you’re a student of color or ally interested in getting involved with this project, please apply using the Jump-Start application.
WANT MORE INFORMATION? Our two-page Q & A under “Related Documents” has a list of all our current and former student leaders. Feel free to contact any one of them for more information on the team. Any general questions can be sent to: JSconnecticut@chapters.glsen.org.
Feel free to post, print, or electronically send the Jump-Start Flyer/Postcard under “Related Documents” to youth in your school or anyone who would be interested in joining. We need your help to spread the word!
To join our Facebook group, GLSEN Connecticut Jump-Start Team and Allies, please click here.
If you are interested in volunteering for the chapter, please fill out our Volunteer Application. We have many exciting volunteer opportunities available for youth, including tabling at events, speaking at schools, facilitating educational workshops, and much more!
SAFE SCHOOLS SUMMIT GLSEN Connecticut’s 2nd Annual Safe Schools Summit is on Saturday, April 6th, 9am-5pm, at Common Ground High School, 358 Springside Ave, New Haven, 06515. PLEASE SAVE THE DATE! More information about the summit will be released soon.
Photo credit: David Pokress | Laurie Scheinman, who has been nominated as co-chairwoman of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Student Association, with her daughter Rachael. (April 4, 2012)
The Parent Teacher’s Association has always prided itself for not only reaching out to families in their district, but also with mainstream parents in mind. Recently, with stronger anti-bullying measures needed in schools, as well as the contribution of gays incorporated into the curriculum, the nation’s first official gay PTA called Long Island Gay- Parent -Teacher Student- Association formed the week of April 23, 2012 in New York. source
They Saw A Need and Fulfilled It
The brainchild student, Rachel Scheinman, a senior at Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York and her mother, Laura Scheinman, 49, chartered a PTA that focuses on the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their families. Rachel, who identifies herself as lesbian, says “ there have been many instances where negative comments are said, and ignored for lack of a better strategy.” Comments her mother of Sands Point, New York, “while many of our schools are tolerant, they don’t have a system set up for any issues if they are to arise. The PTSA will kind of remove those barriers between parents and schools.” Gay-Straight Alliances of students will work at school districts with parents, teachers and anyone interested in equality advocacy for LGBT students or those raised by same-sex couples.
The More The Merrier
“The more people who are involved in the education of children, the better” stated Maria Fletcher, president of the New York State PTA, based in Albany. You don’t have to live in Garden City or even Long Island to join. Nor do you have to parent a gay child to be included. All you have to do is believe in the movement.
Although a similar parent-teacher-student group formed in 1999 in Seattle and later disbanded in 2004, the time is rife for a more inclusive effort such as Scheinman’s to combat GLBT harassment in schools. I suspect that this model program will catch on this country and endure.
Hi, I'm Jessica! The mission of My Kindness Counts is to encourage young people from around the nation to work together to brainstorm better, more positive ways to address bullying in our communities. Interested in sharing what you're doing to help others? Send me an email!Follow @Kindness_Counts