In keeping with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’ aim to make sure schools have the tools and training to stand up for LGBT students, PFLAG Houston has launched Cultivating Respect, a program providing resources needed to work with schools to stop bullying and harassment.
In autumn of 2010, approximately 20 PFLAG-Houston members, including two HATCH professional staffers, took the training, and have taken steps to implement the Safe Schools program in Houston. The objective is to provide educational professionals with strategies to curb bullying.
PFLAG Houston’s first action, taken February 9, was to develop and deliver “Safe Schools–Cultivating Respect” presentations to the attendees of the Texas Association of Future Educators/Texas Future Teachers of America Conference in San Marcos. The following week, the group staffed a booth at the Texas School Counselor Association meeting in Galveston.
In the near future, PFLAG Houston plans to visit high school principals and counselors to offer in-service training to prevent harassment, and in support of establishing Gay-Straight Alliances. An anti-harassment workshop is being planned for fall 2010.
According to national statistics provided by PFLAG and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, LGBT youth are five times more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe, and 18 percent skip school at least once a month. 97 percent of all high school students hear antigay slurs daily, as many as 25 times a day on average. A student with a gay brother, a lesbian aunt, a bisexual parent, or a transgender friend is just as offended, uncomfortable, and unable to learn in such an environment as students who are LGBT or questioning.
For more information, log on to pflaghouston.org.
—by Nancy Ford