MKC Updates & New Partnerships

September 9th, 2013 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

Happy September!

We’ve had a ton going on behind the scenes these past few months and I’m super excited to share these updates with you guys.

1. As you may have noticed in the sidebar on the right, we are now partners with and proudly supporting Submit the Documentary. You may remember that we did a review of the film before it came out last March. If you didn’t get a chance to read our review, you can find it here.  Submit the Documentary, the film, is an extraordinary look into cyber bullying.  Equally as wonderful, the website serves as a fantastic resource, providing information on how to go about reporting cyber bullying. Go to the links to see what I’m talking about and click here to find out about viewing the documentary.

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2. Melissa Wardy, of Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies and Brave Girls Want, recently emailed us to see if MyKindnessCounts.com would be interested in partnering with Brave Girls Want as part of the newly formed Brave Girls Alliance.  This is something we’re super excited about.  The Brave Girls Alliance is a powerhouse think tank and advocacy group of all-stars in the girl power space designed to aggregate our communities and our voices so that corporations, media creators, and retailers can understand how important it is to send out positive, empowering message for and about girls.  Starting on 10/11, the UN’s International Day of the Girl, Brave Girls Want will be flashing girl-positive messages for 7 days on the jumbotron in Times Square. Awesome!

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3.  You may know that while in Connecticut, I served on the Board of GLSEN Connecticut.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, GLSEN is The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.  It’s a national organization aimed at creating safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.  What’s really exciting is that Tucson also has a chapter and I’m now serving as Volunteer Coordinator on the Board of GLSEN Tucson.  I’ve been a huge supporter of GLSEN for years, so I’m really excited to get involved in the community here.  I’ve actually already attended a meeting to brainstorm ideas on a Trans-themed workshop for teachers and educators here in the city.  If you’re interested in finding a GLSEN chapter in your state, let me know!

GLSEN Tucson

4. Outside of my work with GLSEN, I also serve on the Board of It Can Happen Here, a volunteer-based movement committed to reducing violence in our country by inspiring others to take action in their own hometowns and on the national level in the areas of bullying, education, gun safety, mental healthcare, parenting and poverty.  I, of course, mostly deal with the issue of bullying, but my interests also fall into the education, mental healthcare, and parenting areas as well.  What’s really exciting is that we’ve created a group called the ICHH Teen Coalition, which as of right now, is a Facebook group.  The ICHH Teen Coalition was established to unite the youth of our nation around the issue of violence prevention.  I’ve been put in charge of leading this group, so if any of you guys are interested in working with us, please let me know or go here and sign up!

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5. MyKindnessCounts.com is now an official “Champion Against Bullying” on PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center‘s website.  You can find us next to the Arizona tab (since we recently moved from CT to AZ).  What’s really cool about PACER is that they’ve organized and listed a bunch of anti-bullying initiatives and activities that are promoting Anti-Bullying Month, October 2013.  We’re really honored to be included with all of these other incredible organizations.  Check out PACER’s website for a ton of awesome resources and information about bullying in the United States.

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I think that’s it for now!  We may have a few more partnerships coming within the next few weeks, so I’ll update as those come to fruition.  If you have any questions, or would like more info, let me know!

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Back-to-School Bullying

August 7th, 2013 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it?  Mid August is approaching and students, parents, and teachers are all getting ready to go back to school.  Back-to-school bullying is definitely a hot topic in August and while it’s certainly been on mind, I’m in the midst of moving to Arizona for graduate school and I’m a little behind on writing up my own post (although it’s coming!).  In the meantime, I wanted to direct you over to the fantastic blog, Straight Parent, Gay Kid.  I’ve mentioned this blog on MKC a few times in the past.  As you may remember, Wesley Cullen Davidson is a fantastic writer, who also happens to be a mother of a son who is gay.  She uses her experiences in a slew of areas to write up great posts.  Wesley recently did a piece on the topic of back-to-school bullying and she was kind enough to mention MyKindnessCounts. Please head over to her blog to read more. :)

Hope you’re all enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

 

 

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Scout’s Honor

February 12th, 2013 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

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.

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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.

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Thoughts for Jesse Jeffers

February 11th, 2013 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

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.

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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.

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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. :)

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GLSEN Connecticut Jump-Start

September 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts - (0 Comments)

Dear Connecticut middle and high school students:

Become a Jump-Start Student Leader

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.

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION You can access and submit your application by downloading our application via this page under “Related Documents” on the right side of the screen. Click here to go to the site and find these documents!

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.

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This PTA Raises More Than Bake Sale Money: It Raises Consciousness for GLBT Students

Written by: Wesley Davidson

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.

*Wesley Davidson is co-authoring, with a psychiatrist, an advice book for straight parents of gay teens. Her blog on this topic can be found at http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com

Click here to read a previous post Wesley Davidson wrote for MKC on the topic of raising a gay teen.

 

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