Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Top Ten Ways to Make Schools Safe For Kids

For too many of our children, the thought of heading back to school in the fall can be a frightening experience. A recent GLSEN study found that eight out of ten lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students experience some form of mistreatment in school. LGBT youth, and those perceived to be LGBT, endure constant bullying, harassment, and discrimination: in the classroom, hallways, locker rooms and on the bus. 
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But bullying is more than disturbing; it is also dangerous and disruptive. When students feel unsafe at school, they are also unable to learn. And that means that this isn't just an issue for the parents of LGBT kids , but for ALL families. Bullying disrupts classrooms, prevents learning...and creates an atmosphere that is unhealthy for all kids.
As parents, families, friends, and allies we need to do something to make schools safer for ALL students.

How does PFLAG make a difference? By working directly with schools in communities all over the country, providing support, resources, training, model policy and creative programs to create an environment of respect that makes schools safe for all children.

How can you help? Here are the top ten ways you can find support, get education, and become an advocate for safe schools:

  1. Learn the Facts - Students who are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender—LGBT—are at a higher risk for depression, self-harm, and dropping out of school.
  2. Understand the Language - Using respectful and appropriate language is an important benchmark to set a tone of respect and understanding.
  3. Stop Bad Behavior - Don’t ignore or excuse discriminatory behaviors or harassment, and don’t be immobilized by fear: Not taking action can endanger students and make the classroom unsafe.
  4. Set the Policy - A strong and inclusive anti-harassment policy not only protects students; it also protects the school.
  5. Plan School-Wide Activities - Showing films, reading books, and planning schoolwide activities offers opportunities for everyone to learn and participate. These programs help build community, empathy and understanding.
  6. Be Public - Adults should go public with their support for diversity, and oppose bullying and harassment. Signs, stickers and other public displays tell youth that their diversity is welcomed, supported, and protected.
  7. Address Cyber Bullying - Take cyber-bullying seriously. Add cyber bullying to existing anti-harassment or bullying policies, and help provide training and education for students, teachers and parents.
  8. Train and Educate Everyone - It is imperative that every adult—parents, teachers, administrators—is trained to respond to bullying in ways that support every student.
  9. Work for Comprehensive Health Education - Youth must have a clear understanding of their bodies, and health, in order to respect themselves and their classmates.
  10. Provide Resources - Learn more about our partners and resources.