Making Schools Bully-Free for LGBTQ Youth

Dear SGS families,

I would like to turn over this week’s Thursday Notes Home to Janet Miller who has been working as an integral part of the 7th grade team. Her presentation on Tuesday holds a powerful message for us all. While I believe that SGS is a safe place for LGBTQ families and students, we must never take the emotional safety of any of our students for granted. Please find a time to have a conversation with your daughter, a conversation framed by your own family values and faith, but with a clear message of inclusion and respect for others. Ask her about her own emotional safety, but also challenge her to think about any times when she has been less than kind to a
classmate. Yes, this is one of those teachable moments where the goal is to teach empathy and compassion. Let’s all take on the challenge.

Thank you,
Rafael

Community Meeting 10/19/10

I’m going to talk about something that’s really sad and difficult, but important to be aware of, so we can work to change our reality.

Raise your hand if you have heard about the recent suicides of young people who identify OR who are perceived to be LGBTQ/gender non- conforming.

This is a very serious issue for me. It affects me personally. This is my community, my family. That is why I wanted to talk to all of you today about this issue.

Acknowledging and talking about these suicides is one of the ways that we can work to change our culture to not only tolerate people who identify as LGBTQQ, but to value and love them as well!

First, let’s learn a little bit more about what’s been going on just in the past 2 months. Here is Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns addressing the issue at a City Council meeting on October 12th, about a week ago.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax96cghOnY4

Raise your hand if hearing about these deaths makes you feel sad. Keep your hand up if it angers you. Keep your hand up if it makes you want to be a part of the movement to make life better for LGBTQQ people, their allies, and their loved ones.
Look around the room. There is so much support and allyship in this room. Take a
moment to appreciate that. It means so much to me, and I hope it is also powerful for
you.

There has been a huge response to these recent suicides. I want to highlight some of the ways that young LGBTQQ people, and people of all ages, have been responding and
acting proactively, to show their love & support for the LGBTQQ community.
The video we watched is part of a project called “It Gets Better.” Columnist Dan Savage launched “It Gets Better,” a video message in response to recent youth suicides to tell LGBT youth that life gets better after high school. You can go on You Tube and watch hundreds of videos that people have made, telling young people that life does get better.

One response, led by young people, is The Make It Better Project. The Make It Better
Project takes the “it gets better project” one step further, giving youth the tools they need to make their lives better now. They are saying, “We aren’t waiting until high school is over for our lives to get better… We are taking action now!” Check this out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vBmLivjVAo&feature;=player_embedded

Another powerful project is a local project called Put This on the Map. It’s a
documentary made by a friend of mine about a generation of young people who live in
and around Seattle & Kirkland re-teaching gender and sexual identity. Their goal is toimprove schools and communities for LGBTQQ youth through educating parents,
teachers, and other young folks.

I love hearing what these young people have to say. Creating change is not just about
ending bullying. It’s about really changing our culture! Changing our culture to accept and love queer people means doing more than just making overt statements like, “We must end bullying!” It’s fabulous to say, “Let’s all wear purple tomorrow to show our love and support for the queer community!” and we also need to make sure we are following through with that message on a daily basis. What are some actions we could take in our daily lives to show that we love, respect, & value LGBTQ people?

-Don’t say things like, “that’s so gay” and if you do hear it, say something!
-Don’t make faces when people talk about LGBTQQ people
-Check your assumptions about what peoples’ families might be like.

And also, people need to know that there are lots & lots of LBGTQQ people who are
happy and living fabulous, amazing, successful lives!

I’d like to end with a real positive note from a lovely group of young LGBTQQ people:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9tSmwqpWQM

Thank you!
Janet