Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Action Alert: Top Ten Ways to Make Schools Safer

As PFLAG National mourns the tragic deaths of Caleb Nolt, Felix Sacco, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Cody J. Parker, Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, along with the countless number of other young people who have suffered from relentless anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and discrimination – we find ourselves searching for more ways to end this trend. Sadly we know all too well that before taking their lives, these young people endured years of anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination that went unchecked by school officials.

In response to these recent tragedies, and in honor of National Safe Schools Day, we urge you to take action at your school to prevent youth suicide by stopping anti-LGBT bullying today!

We call on you to work in coalition with students, teachers, and other school officials to put an end to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Below are 10 simple actions you can take to help build safer schools for all students:

Top 10 Ways To Make Schools Safer:

1. Claim Your Rights. It’s critical that school community members know their federal civil rights, especially when they live in states and school districts that lack explicit LGBT anti-bullying protections. Be sure to check out PFLAG’s Claim Your Rights Resource Center, to learn about ways you can report unchecked bullying, harassment and discrimination.

2. Call Congress. Call your Congress Members and ask them to co-sponsor the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Click here to find your Members of Congress and make the call today!

3. Plan a PFLAG Meeting. Organize a PFLAG meeting to discuss what your members can do to prevent bullying and suicide at your school. If you need some ideas on what to include in your program, please contact our Safe Schools Coordinator for ideas.

4. Organize a Candlelight Vigil. Work with your chapter members along with other community organizations to honor students like Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas, Justin Aaberg, and other young people who have died because of unchecked anti-LGBT bullying.

5. Plan School-Wide Activities. There are simple and important ways to educate the school community about why respect for everyone must be the rule, and not the exception, to address bullying in your school communities. Please contact our Safe Schools Coordinator for specific ideas.

6. Train and Educate Everyone. Ask for school faculty to be trained to repond to bullying in the most effective, helpful way. To learn more about PFLAG’s Cultivating Respect Training Program please click here.

7. Set the Policy. Work with school officials to strengthen your school's policies on bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Please review PFLAG’s model policy.

8. Make a video. Similar to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better Campaign,” consider making a video to tell the world what you're doing to make your school safer. Upload your video to YouTube and send the link to our Safe Schools Coordinator so that we can publicize it!

9. Write an Op-Ed. Consider writing an Op-Ed to your local newspaper to educate your community about the impact of anti-LGBT bullying, and the remedies to help build safer schools for all students. For ideas on what to include in your op-ed, please visit our advocacy and issues webpage.

10. Know the Resources. Make sure school community members know that they can call 1-800-4U-TREVOR, a suicide prevention hotline, and be sure to share other community resources for young people who are looking for additional help, support and information.

Please be sure to share your op-eds along with your pictures and videos from your actions with rperry@pflag.org so that we can feature them on our National Blog.

Thank you for moving equality forward!

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