GREENSBORO — Gay Straight Advocates for Education (GSAFE) has created a program in Guilford County called “In This School” to aid in the effort to combat LGBT discrimination and foster inclusivity.
GSAFE Vice Chair Annette Green heads up the project. They have created a laminated sign which states the enumerated “isms” in the Guilford County Policy. This includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
The Policy states:
It is the policy of the Guilford County Board of Education to maintain a learning environment that is free from harassment, bullying and discrimination. This includes, but is not limited to, harassment, bullying and discrimination based on an individual’s real or perceived race, color, sex, religion, creed, political belief, age, national origin, linguistic and language differences, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, socioeconomic status, height, weight, physical characteristics, marital status, parental status or disability. The Board prohibits any and all forms of harassment because of those differences.
It shall be a violation of this policy for any student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel to harass, bully or discriminate against any person based upon any of the differences listed above. It shall also be a violation of this policy for any teacher, administrator or other school personnel to tolerate such harassment, bullying or discrimination of any person by a student, teacher, administrator, other school personnel or by any third parties subject to supervision and control of the Guilford County Schools.
The students from the group’s Student Network are taking the 5x8 signs to teachers and asking that they put them up. The laminated sign can be placed in classrooms to explain the expected behavior required there. The Guilford County Diversity Officer will also be assisting GSAFE in getting them displayed in classrooms.
There are two other parts to the program. They have printed 5,000 doubled-sided color business size cards for students to distribute and carry. They state the part of the policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity/expression and on the other side ask students to report situations where the policy is not enforced and cases where it is enforced. A reporting form has been created that GSAFE can use to track compliance or non-compliance of the policy. Students are referred to the website where they can fill out the report online, download the form and mail it or are referred to the school counselor for a copy. The GSC Diversity Officer is assisting GSAFE in getting it into the counselor’s offices.
The GSAFE sticker is a similar project from last year. Teachers and counselors can place the sticker in their classroom or office to let students know they are supportive of LGBT students. Five thousand bumper stickers were printed and made available for teachers, students and/or businesses to display.
GSAFE is an organization made up of a diverse group of people who are gay and straight. GSAFE is dedicated to making schools safe for all people. It operates a Student Network. The Network is an organization for high school students working toward furthering the goals of valuing and respecting LGBT individuals in schools. It meets monthly where students from various high school Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) share information about their work and projects.
GSAFE’s mission is to provide for the promotion of a public policy by which schools are alleviated from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression so that all students, faculty, staff and other school community members are made physically and emotionally safe; provide resources that address the educational, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs and wants of LGBT youth and their allies; and to further the goals of valuing and respecting LGBT persons in educational environments.
At press time, plans are underway to facilitate a Safe Zone training session in the Asheville area and others.
For more information on training sessions or to learn more about GSAFE, email Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gsafe.org.