We just received a letter from the IRS, GSSC, Inc. (a Georgia Non Profit Corp) is now a 501(c)(3) public charity !
The effective date is(was) Oct 7, 2015, so anything donated after that date is Fed. tax deductible.
Help fund GSSC at:
Thank you so much for helping us make our schools safer!
Request a training for your school or organization! If you would like LGBTQQIA cultural competency training or safe zone training we’ve got you covered. Please fill out this training request form!
The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition is a group of teachers, parents, students and community organizers and one important service we offer is Safe Zone training for Georgia schools. We need more volunteers to become GSSC Safe Zone trainers in order to meet the huge need out there! Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a trainer.
By Jessica Fisher and Kalli E.
The Queer Youth Leading The South (QYLTS) Camp convened on Wednesday, July 16th on a cool, bright day in Georgia. The welcome mat rolled out for young people from seven southern states going from Florida to Mississippi, with even a couple guests from California.
The camp was held on the beautiful campus of Agnes Scott College, a private liberal arts women’s college in Decatur, Georgia.
The sense of community was felt almost instantly, as youth were showed to their dorms and settled into the space for the next three days.
The first evening included discussions on conflict management and a Trans Justice Workshop.
It was powerful to have the Trans Justice Workshop the first night, as language around gender identity is often the most necessary tool used by people to address their gender confusion. We were able to see that on the first night of QYLTS camp, as two youths, one from California and one from here in Georgia, expressed an interest to go by different pronouns and/or names, in an effort to explore their gender identity and to address their gender confusion. For some it was their first time in a safe space where they could explore their gender identity without fear or backlash.
And, as one Georgian trans youth put it, it was nice to not be the only trans person in the room.
The end of the first evening came way too quickly. Lots of us youth were tired and ready to sleep, but wanted to stay up and socialize, to meet the new people from across the country. Four days was too short a time to spend in such great company.
All young people need to be in school and feel safe there in order to learn. That’s why we’re committed to building safe and welcoming schools where students are free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and harsh discipline policies.
As we forge ahead in this important work, we’re using two new resources to advocate for inclusive and effective school policies:
Model School Code
The Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Model Code on Education and Dignity presents a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human rights of education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination. The Code is the culmination of several years of research and dialogue with students, parents, educators, advocates and researchers who came together to envision a school system that supports all young people in reaching their full potential.
A recently revised version of the Model Code is now available and includes new sections on:
- social and emotional learning;
- prevention and response to bullying behavior;
- reducing tickets and summonses issued in school;
- reducing racial disparities in discipline through culturally responsive classroom management; and
- creating safe schools for LGBTQ students.
Restorative Justice Toolkit
A new, innovative tool designed to help improve school climate and reduce racial disparities in school discipline. This toolkit was jointly released by Advancement Project, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign. The toolkit focuses on strategies to build healthy relationships between students and adults in educational settings. This approach allows students and individuals to learn from their mistakes and make amends for wrongdoing. The “restorative practices” model includes addressing and discussing the needs of the school community, resolving conflict, holding individuals and groups accountable, repairing and restoring relationships, and reducing and preventing harmful behavior. Click here to download this resource!
Data on Suspensions
Overuse of out-of-school suspension is one of the key drivers of school pushout of minority students. It is one practice among many that make it more likely for students — especially LGBTQ students, students of color, immigrant students, and students with disabilities — to leave school instead of finish it.
Want to know the suspension rates for students by school district in your area? Check out School Discipline Data from The Center for Civil Rights Remedies (CCRR).
This useful tool quickly sorts through data on more than 26,000 U.S. schools and approximately 7,000 districts to present the reader with clear yet detailed graphs based on the analysis published in two recent CCRR reports — Opportunities Suspended: The Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School and Out of School & Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools.
A joint initiative of the federal Departments of Justice and Education released a long-awaited guidance package on school discipline. According to a joint statement the guidance will “will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.”
The guidance includes the following:
- Unpublished 2011-12 CRDC data that reveals that stark racial disparities persist in the administration of school discipline.
- Disciplinary actions that will trigger heightened scrutiny from DOE/DOJ when they result in racial disparities.
- The legal framework within which the Departments will consider allegations of racially discriminatory discipline practices.
- Examples of remedies to redress violations of racial discrimination.
- Best practice recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, and staff.
The release of this guidance package is a major step forward in dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline. It is the federal government’s strongest acknowledgement yet of the pervasiveness and impact of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Of course, this is a result of years of work by students, parents and other advocates who have demanded that policy makers address the problem.
While the guidance package is a victory in its own right, it also creates an opportunity to strengthen our current efforts. If you want to dismantle the school to prison pipeline in your school, either as a student or teacher/parent, get in contact with us so we can connect you to our local efforts and the work of our state and national partners!
To learn more about school to prison pipeline efforts in Georgia, check out these local organizations:
Jenna Thomas is an amazing human being whom you cannot even begin to talk about in past tense! We are a group of siblings, parents, friends, activists, and advocates whose lives are better because we know Jenna Thomas. Jenna is a relentless activist and advocate and has significantly contributed to making the world a better place by leading workshops and seminars to educate others and personally mentoring friends and family. She is down to earth, has a very unique sense of humor and loads and loads of kindness for those different and similar to her. If you ever met Jenna, your life was transformed – even in a small amount of time. Jenna helps us believe in the power of love, connection, and community! Oh, and by the way, Jenna was a fierce young transgender woman who liberated herself and others along her journey. Hey Miss Jenna – We love you!
This scholarship will be awarded to a very special youth who:
· Believes in the power of love, friendship and leadership to transform the world into a better place
· Has an excellent sense of humor!
· Demonstrates kindness and compassion to others in meaningful ways
· Has a strong commitment to activism and social justice
· Is currently enrolled in a degree program at a post-secondary educational institution
This scholarship will be presented at the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition’s Annual GSA Youth Summit at Agnes Scott College.
Scholarship Application Materials:
· 1 personal essay (1 page) describing how the applicant meets the above criteria
· 2 letters from a teacher, mentor, or fellow activist describing personal qualities of love, compassion, humor, and commitment to education, activism and social justice
Scholarship Application Deadline:
January 11 each year.
Please direct any questions about the application process to Anneliese Singh at 404.849.8186.
Javon, a 14 year old freshmen in high school, woke up this morning like every other morning, not realizing his life was about to take a turn for the worse. To describe Javon one would say he is a youthful and fun spirit, has an amazing singing voice, and he is quite popular among the girls. He wants to go to Columbia College for Theater Directing. He is very respectful to all his teachers which he is known for, but there is just one thing different about him. Javon came out as gay at the age of 12 to his Mom. He felt safe when he told his Mom, and because she accepted him, he didn’t care what others had to say to him . . . until today.
As Javon is walking down the hall being himself, hanging with a group of his friends, another group of guys walk by. Within seconds, he is called “punk” “sissy” “faggot” and “homo.” He is used to the name calling and usually lets it roll off his back but today it turns physical. He is pushed and knocked over by one of the guys in the group. Javon, blacks out and when he comes to, he is being pulled off the boy who pushed him. There is blood and Javon can’t figure out why he has a major grip on his algebra book.
A few hours later, Javon is sitting in the Principal’s office hunched over, shaking with his Mom is sitting next to him. “Expelling him seems a little too harsh given he has never done anything like this before,” she says.
“Mrs. Jackson, he broke the other student’s nose and his parents are looking at pressing charges. We have a Zero Tolerance Policy in this school and unfortunately, my hands are tied when it comes to the policy.”
Javon sits there quietly wondering what just happened? If he gets expelled, can he get into another school? How will it look on his records? Did he just lose his chance getting into Columbia College, even with this being his first offense?
The most disturbing thing about this story is not the broken nose or even the name calling. It is the fact that this is a common occurrence in many schools across the country, especially for students who identify as LGBTQQI. The scarier thing is that number jumps quickly when it comes to students of color.
So what is the deal with School Pushout? Just like in the story with Javon, one of the issues that LGBTQQI youth, youth of color, and students with disabilities face is harsh disciplinary actions such as suspension, expulsion, and arrests, even for minor infractions. Unevenly applied discipline, plus a hostile school climate, all lead to students essentially being pushed out of school.
Pushback against Pushout is a campaign that works to end policies like Zero Tolerance and replace them with restorative policies that foster better school climates through investing in solutions and counseling strategies. Without this, students face a No-Win situation. Either they face coming to a school every day where they don’t feel safe and face ridicule and harassment or they are told “go ahead and stand up for who you are but as soon as you do, you’ll be slapped with a suspension, expulsion or be sent to juvenile detention.”
I know this personally about Javon . . . Because Javon is my middle name.
Luckily I was able to overcome my own oppression in school and I am now an educator and expert on working with LGBTQQ African American Youth. I have worked with over 100,000 students around the country and unfortunately my experience is not unique; there is a level of urgency to this issue because it is a growing problem.
Did you know that on average, states spend $88,000 a year to incarcerate one youth, but only $10,000 to educate one?
Just ONE youth!
In Georgia, youth of color face higher discipline rates, lower graduation rates, and more days out of school compared to their white counterparts. There isn’t even data collected for LGBTQQI students, but based on research and student surveys and the stories we hear from students who reach out to us for help, we know they face similar challenges and a hostile school environment. When you take a moment to look
at preparing our students for the real world, Pushout is teaching them intolerance and doesn’t allow room to discuss differences or learn from mistakes. This is for both sides of the fence. For our LBGTQQI youth, youth of color and youth with disabilities, they are indirectly taught don’t be yourself! Oh and by the way, if you do, you can pretty much kiss your education good bye. Then for those who are the offenders, the ones doing the bullying behavior, we are teaching them “you don’t have to discuss it, if they stand up to you, just know that both of you may kiss your future good bye.”
I know this may seem extreme, however, when you have schools throughout the country where they are virtually taught in a prison environment (i.e. armed security guards, metal detectors), you have to ask yourself what type of climate are we really providing for our youth?
- If you are a student in a GSA or LGBTQQI organization check out this guide for GSAs to participate in the Week of Action! Includes a meme template for social media and easy ways to show your support. Post on our facebook or twitter to increase local reach!
- If you are an alumni of GSA or any organization at your school that supports LGBTQQI students, reach out to them and ask how you can support them. The boost from alumni will bring both awareness to the matter and introduce a community of support and resiliency.
Promote the Week of Action on Social Media!
- Email your Senator today through Dignity in Schools federal Action Alert calling on our Senators to support school discipline reform in ESEA!
- Each day of the week we will promote a different theme related to school pushout. Help us kick off the Week of Action with the theme for September 30th – Racial Disparities in School Discipline.
- Check out Dignity in Schools latest videos:
- Change your Twitter and Facebook logos to the Week of Action “Push Back Against School Pushout” icon by clicking here.
- As the Week of Action unfolds and post your own messages using the suggested hashtags: #SchoolPushout #CounselorsNotCops #SolutionsNotSuspensions
By participating in the Week of Action you are adding your voice to the dialog and collectively sending a louder message to not only your community but to the world. We are Pushing Back Against Pushout! We are all taking a stand to support students like Javon, and all the youth who are still being impacted by these policies.
For the last eight years, Speaker & Author A’ric Jackson, has impacted the lives of over 100,000 students, teachers and parents across the globe. He is an Activist for Equal Education Opportunities for all, and is the National Expert in how to Understand, Reach and Teach African American Gay and Lesbian Youth. His latest book Understanding, Reaching, and Teaching African American Youth In and Out of the Classroom is being released Fall 2013. He is excited to partner with Georgia Safe Schools Coalition and Georgia Equality and looking to continue his impact of Equal Education for ALL! Visit his website at www.AricSpeaks.com