National Safe Schools Day for LGBTQ Youth

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

Today we’d like to raise awareness for an important campaign by Safe Schools Action Network: National Safe Schools Day. As you likely know there were quite a few highly publicized LGBTQ youth suicides as a result of anti-LGBTQ bullying clustered around this time last year, which makes this day so important. You probably all know the facts about Health Risks of LGBT kids including the obscene statistics about high suicide rates among LGB, and especially T people.

It’s of some relief to know that the government is starting to respond with supportive policies and recommendations. At a Network we do our best to support LGBTQ youth in our policy advocacy, trainings, supporting you in your efforts, hosting LGBTQ youth initiatives, action alerts, and youth focused funding technical assistance calls. However, sometimes it’s useful to provide resources with what people can do directly, which is just what Safe Schools is doing and why we gladly support their efforts.

Take Action

The Safe Schools Action Network website hosts many ways to get involved, provides resources for LGBTQ youth, and lists many ways to take action such as:

  • Send a Letter/Email to a School, Community Leader or Local Newspaper Editor
  • Speak with your representatives in government to support LGBTQ youth
  • Work with your schools to educate and create task forces for LGBTQ youth
  • Talk with neighbors, friends, co-workers and families
  • Be a mentor to an LGBTQ youth

Make it Personal

Some of you already do great work, but we should all push ourselves to do one extra thing this month for the youth. For me, I’ve decided to contact my old school district, asking for them to support LGBTQ youth. Like many LGBTQ people, when I was growing up I was bullied quite a bit. Well before I even came out, peers directed homophobic and transphobic taunts and slurs at me on a regular basis, and I became very depressed and isolated for feeling so different from my straight, gender conforming peers. When I did come out in high school, it felt good to be myself, but bullying got more defined. However, my school’s administration was very supportive of me and were there when I needed them. Looking back, I consider myself lucky to have had such support in a small, conservative town and I’m not sure if I would here today if it wasn’t for that support. Therefore I am resolved to write a letter to my school thanking them for their support and asking them for their continued support of transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer and questioning students.

So whatever you do, whether you’re making it personal or taking action because it’s the right thing, please do something for the youth.

Make it a Commitment

All of October is Bullying Prevention Month too, so for the next few weeks, please make a committment to support LGBTQ youth.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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