Our schools are still not safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. 81% of LGBT youth report being verbally harassed or threatened daily in school because of their sexual orientation. LGBT youth have the right to go to school without being bullied or harassed, and they should not have to feel unsafe either.
Since 1993, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) has been working to create safe schools and combating statistics like these through its Safe Schools Initiative. This program helps student leaders and school staff to develop a school culture that fosters support, understanding, and respect for LGBT youth, families and educators.
Studies have shown that bullying not only effects the short-term, but it has long-term effects as well. LGBT students who are victims of bullying and harassment are shown to have higher rates of depression than their peers and are more likely to skip class or dropout of school altogether. They are also much more likely to drink, smoke, or use other drugs as a coping mechanism for the pain they experience. LGBT students are also more likely to commit suicide than other youth because they see it as their only way to end the bullying and harassment.
While bullying and harassment of LGBT students is a terrible occurrence, there is a solution to these problems. In partnering with over 100 school districts across Nassau and Suffolk Counties (and now in the borough of Queens), LIGALY’s Safe Schools Initiative is able to deliver education, prevention, and outreach programs that help to create safer schools.
LIGALY will be continuing its phenomenal work for the 2015-2016 school year to put an end to the bullying and harassment of LGBT youth in Long Island schools. Last year, LIGALY delivered over 300 “LGBT 101” anti-bullying workshops in schools all across Long Island. LIGALY also trains teachers and other staff in schools so that they are prepared to address and prevent bullying as it takes place.
Each year, LIGALY asks the community for support in putting an end to bullying and harassment. Their Back to School Campaign seeks to raise funds to help support these anti-bullying workshops and training’s throughout the school year.
For the 2014-2015 school year, LIGALY was able to deliver over 300 anti-bullying workshops to 5,000 students, train 1,000 teachers and school staff to prevent bullying, and conduct leadership training’s for 1,500 youth leaders from 50 Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs.
LIGALY also implements an Annual National Coming Out Day Awareness Campaign (see page 11 for more information) in over 60 Long Island schools that engaged over 65,000 students and educators to take a stand against bullying and run a weekly youth leadership program – Safe Schools Team – that builds youth leadership and helps youth to organize in their school communities to stop bullying.
To help put an end to bullying and harassment of LGBT students, visit lgbtnetwork.org/backtoschool for more information or to make a donation.
Boot Camp Against Bullying
Give bullying the boot at “Boot Camp Against Bullying,” a special fundraising event for the LGBT Network (the Network) to support its Hamptons LGBT Center anti-bullying outreach and education in schools.
Bullying and harassment of LGBT students happens all across Long Island. In September 2012, 16-year-old David Hernandez Barros, an East Hampton student, committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay.
This tragic event accelerated the Network’s efforts to open a third community center housed within the Old Whalers Church in Sag Harbor, the Hamptons LGBT Center. The Center has become a home and safe space for LGBT youth, adults, older adults, and LGBT-headed families to express themselves in a supportive environment.
Each year, the Network continues its anti-bullying work through the Safe Schools Initiative to deliver education, prevention, and outreach programs that help to create safer schools.
To register, call 516.323.0011 or visit: lgbtnetwork.org/bootcamp.