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Syracuse University and community organizations sponsor conference on making schools safe for LGBT students
Syracuse University and community organizations sponsor conference on making schools safe for LGBT studentsJanuary 26, 2006Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
On Saturday, March 4, Syracuse University and community organizations will sponsor a safe schools conference titled “Teaching Respect for All: Creating Safe Schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Students.” It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, 3800 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.
This free, daylong series of educational workshops is intended to provide high school, middle school and elementary school teachers, students, administrators and pre-service educators with the knowledge and tools to successfully create a culture in which all people are respected, free to express themselves and able to reach their full potential. Many teachers, administrators and students are ill equipped to deal with homophobia, bullying, harassment and name-calling. Misunderstandings, fear and personal beliefs prevent many individuals from addressing anti-gay bias and homophobia in their schools.
Facilitators from Gay Lesbian Straight Educator Network (GLSEN) Rochester will lead the sessions, with participation and support of local students, faculty, parents and community members. GLSEN Rochester is a leading organization dedicated to ending anti-gay bias and harassment in schools. GLSEN Rochester strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected, regardless of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“Bullying and harassment are clearly significant issues in New York schools,” says Keith Powell, chair of GLSEN Rochester. “It is time that parents, teachers, students, school administrators and legislators work together to make sure schools are safer for all students.”
Mara Sapon-Shevin, professor in SU’s School of Education, is committed to helping current and future teachers develop the sensitivities and skills they need. “This conference is a critical first step for creating safe, inclusive classrooms and schools for all students,” she says. “Everyone who works in schools or cares about someone who attends school should attend.”
Barbara Crawford, co-chair of PFLAG-Syracuse (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian & Gays), encourages school personnel to step up to this challenge. “Every child deserves to feel safe and welcome in school,” she says. “PFLAG calls on all schools to show courageous and responsible leadership by respecting all students and their families. Schools must be places where it is safe for every child to be himself or herself, and where every child feels his or her family is respected.”
The conference is free, but registration is required. The priority deadline is Feb. 15. Space is limited to the first 150 registrants. Registration is online at the Syracuse University LGBT Resource Centerwebsite: http://students.syr.edu/lgbt/respect/. Those desiring more information or who are unable to register online can contact the Syracuse University LGBT Resource Center firstname.lastname@example.org or call (315) 443-3983.
Sponsors include the Syracuse University LGBT Resource Center, PFLAG-Syracuse, SU’s School of Education, SU’s College of Human Services and Health Professions, The Stonewall Committee, AIDS Community Resources and the Safer Community LGBTQ Youth Center, GLSEN-Rochester, The Rainbow Alliance of Central New York, the Syracuse Teachers Association and the Syracuse City School District.