Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Caught in the Middle: ABC News on Safe Schools

ABCNews.com has a report this morning about the growing trend of middle school students who are coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender . . . and the challenges they and their parents and schools face.

Lisa Rivero, a PFLAG mom who leads PFLAG's Brevard County/Safe Schools chapter in Florida, shares her family's experience with ABC, noting that the harassment her son, Josh, faced in school was so harsh and unrelenting that she has now chosen to enroll him in a virtual school, instead.

"The conversation [about his sexuality] started in eighth grade, but since elementary school he'd been called a fag," Rivero told reporter Susan Donaldson James. " . . . The school did nothing."

"He had a right to go to school and get an education without being bullied," Lisa says. "We had no issues with him being gay. What we had the most difficulty with was accepting our fear that we knew our son would be a target. . . . It starts with teachers in the classroom. A lot of them stepped up and intervened, but there were other teachers who looked up at him and said, 'What do you want me to do?'"

ABC noted that few middle schools have policies or trainings in place to deal with the increasing number of students who open about their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The need for such steps, however, is also increasingly evident.

"When Bobby shows up with two mommies, sexual orientation presents itself at earlier and earlier ages," PFLAG's executive director, Jody Huckaby, told James. "The work to develop curricula has to be done earlier. It's a reality that gay people exist and it's easier and easier for kids to develop a language around the fact that they are different."

To read the full ABC News article, click here.

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