Wednesday, June 8, 2011

PFLAG National Participates in Historic Federal Summit on LGBT Youth

Earlier this week, representatives from PFLAG National participated in the Federal Summit on LGBT Youth – an inaugural event sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Justice. The two-day federal summit focused specifically on the unique needs and challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. This is the first-ever federal summit to address the needs of LGBT youth. In announcing the summit, the Department of Education wrote:

LGBT youths are a uniquely vulnerable population in America’s schools. Because they suffer at a higher rate than many of their peer groups from physical violence, bullying, anxiety and depression, LGBT youths are more prone to exhibit high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual risk-taking and running away from home. The summit, hosted by the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, will bring together students, educators, administrators, and heads of federal and nonprofit agencies to provide information and seek solutions to these issues.

Representatives from PFLAG National facilitated a break-out session sharing best practices on how to build safer schools in small and rural communities. We had the privilege of presenting with two seasoned PFLAG chapter leaders, Linda Stroupe from Greensboro, NC and Judy Sandeen from Hastings, NE. At the end of the breakout session, we articulated several concrete recommendations and delivered them directly to officials from the Departments of Education, HHS and Justice. These recommendations outlined how to address some of the unique challenges smaller communities experience when trying to make schools safer for LGBT young people.

In addition to PFLAG’s ongoing efforts to build safer schools through training and educating our school communities across the nation, we continue to encourage you to express your support for PFLAG National’s highest education priorities in Congress – passing both the Student Non Discrimination Act (H.R. 998/S. 555) and the Safe School Improvement Act (H.R. 1648/S. 506). No federal law explicitly protects students on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and no federal law mandates school districts to adopt comprehensive anti-bulling policies and reporting requirements. Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Robert Casey (D-PA) along with Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) have introduced the legislation in Congress necessary to finally extend basic civil rights protections to our LGBT loved ones in school.

Please be sure to contact your Congress Members and ask them to support and help pass this life saving legislation today, ensuring that all students have access to a safe and supportive learning environment. To find out who your Congress Members are, please visit our action alert center.

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