ALABAMA SAFE SCHOOLS COALITION
Creating Safe Schools for LGBT Youth
The Alabama Safe Schools
Coalition is comprised of organizations and individuals committed to
ensuring that Alabama schools are safe learning environments where all
students are free from discrimination, harassment, and violence.
The ASSC will work with individuals, organizations, and school systems committed to protecting our youth. The ASSC advocates the creation and implementation of comprehensive and inclusive nondiscrimination and anti-bullying policies protecting all students, including sexual minority students.
Where there is no protection and where there is fear or misinformation, the ASSC seeks to provide the impetus and resources needed to make Alabama schools safe learning environments for all students.
MAKE A CHANGE
Youth Leadership Institute
The YWCA’s Make A Change Leadership Institute was held on January 27, 2013, in Birmingham. Make a Change Leadership Institute offers students skills and motivation to improve their school’s climate. Make a Change provides a fun and interactive approach to real-life issues that affect your school. This year’s theme focused on supporting LGBTQ youth at school.
Make A Change motivates students and educators to make changes resulting in schools that are safer and more conducive to learning. Schools can send as many students as they would like. Schools can either sponsor their students or ask students to pay for themselves.
For more information, contact Emily Thornton,
YWCA Central Alabama, 309 23rd Street North, Birmingham,
Alabama 35203, Phone: 205.322.9922 Ext 185.
SUPPORTING SAFE SCHOOLS
ASSC Partners With ALGBTICAL and Others
ALGBTICAL supports the important work of the Alabama Safe Schools Coalition. Members of the ASSC include:
ACLU of Alabama
Anti-Defamation League, Southeastern Region
Alabama Psychological Association
Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama
Crisis Center Teen Link and Crisis & Suicide Line
PFLAG of Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Anniston, and Huntsville
National Conference for Community and Justice, Alabama
National Organization for Women, Alabama Chapter
YWCA of Central Alabama
Mental Health Association of Central Alabama
Greater Birmingham Ministries
FACTS & STATS
Info About LGBT Youth
According a survey of high school students in Alabama, high school students are subjected to homophobic and gender identity harassment and discrimination.
49% of the participants said they had heard homophobic statements at school.
59% said they had been verbally harassed at school.
22% said they had been physically harassed at school.
60% said they had been unable to concentrate in class.
36% had experienced the lowering of grades.
49% reported self-harming thoughts.
43% reported thoughts of suicide.
LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT and those who are friends, allies, and relatives of LGBT individuals are at risk for…
Lowered academic performance
Higher dropout rates
Destructive acting-out behavior
Increased economic hardship
Alabama law mandates that sex education programs in public schools included the statement “homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”
While Alabama’s sodomy law was invalidated by the U. S. Supreme Court decision in the Lawrence v. Texas case in 2003, it has been used as a rationale for the retention of discrimination practices against sexual minority youth.
SAFE SPACE PROGRAM
GLSEN Fights Anti-Gay Bullying
As a response to the epidemic of LGBT bullying, and bullying that directly contributes to suicide, individuals and organizations are feverishly stepping up efforts to reach out to LGBT youth. Recently, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) launched their Safe Space Campaign, an effort to promote support for LGBT middle school and high school students. The campaign’s goal is to put a Safe Space Kit in every single middle and high school in the United States.
The Safe Space Kit contains stickers and posters, a guide with steps for staff members to take to build support for LGBT students and prevent anti-gay bullying and harassment. Chely Wright, the country singer who made history this year when she came out of the closet, has stepped up to the plate as the Safe Space Campaign spokesperson. Several other celebrities have also voiced their support of the Safe Space Campaign.
The campaign resembles a similar campaign at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, and many other universities across the country -- Safezone. The Safezone program required interested students and staff to undergo a training program in LGBT sensitivity, as well as how to help LGBT students. Upon completion of the program, each person received their own Safezone sticker, which they could put on their dorm room door to let others know that they’re LGBT-friendly.
Similarly to how the Safezone sticker symbolized support for LGBT people, staff members undertaking GLSEN's program will be able to show support for LGBT students through their Safe Space stickers. Offering these safe, supportive environments in middle schools and high schools will help LGBT students feel like they are not alone and will make them feel more safe at school.
(From Jordan Rubenstein)
A L G B T I C A L Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama