, :

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition 5K and 1mile Fun Run!

March 31st, 2014

final GSSC 5K 2014 flyer

Click here to learn more and to register!

When: May 4th, 2014 10am
Where: Avondale Estates, Georgia5k fun run 2013 4
How: Register – http://www.gssc5k.com
$25 for 5K and $15 for 1 Mile Fun Run – T-shirt Included
Why: Come run to support Georgia Safe Schools Coalition mission to eliminate LGBTQQ oppression in Georgia schools! All proceeds from this race will help raise awareness and provide educational materials about issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth and families.

In August 2013, the U.S. Department of Education published statistics revealing that nearly 1 in 3 students (27.8%) reported being bullied during the school year.¹ Students who experience bullying are at increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and poor school adjustment.² Furthermore, those students who identify as LGBTQQ are more likely than their peers to be victims of bullying and to express feelings of discomfort and anxiety when attending school.  A 2011 study from the National School Climate Survey indicated that 81.9% of students who identified as LGBTQQ were bullied in the last year based on their sexual orientation.³

To help prevent such injustices from occurring in Georgia’s schools, a partnership of educators, community organizations, and safe school activists banded together in 2009 to raise awareness about issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth and families.  The result of this collaboration was the development of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC).  The purpose of GSSC is to eliminate LGBTQQ oppression in Georgia schools.  The organization educates and advocates on issues affecting LGBTQQ students and families.  By serving as a resource for Georgia students, educators, and families, the organization strives to engender positive social growth among Georgia’s youth, and to foster a safe and affirming school climate for all. The Powering Safe Schools 5K’s mission is to raise funds to support the ongoing initiatives of GSSC, including:

·         Providing training, support, and resources to Georgia schools, counselors, administration, faculty and staff
·         Raising awareness among families, parents and members of the community
·         Providing resources to help support safer, more affirming schools at the local, district, and state level
·         Consulting with schools and personnel in developing safer, more positive school climates
·         Offering support and resources to Gay-Straight Alliances

The event will feature the historic Central Business District and Mill District of Avondale Estates.

Click here to learn more and to register!

New Tools Available to End the School-to-Prison-Pipeline!

March 19th, 2014

gwinnett rallyAll 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.

Just click here to download this resource! restorative practices

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:

  1. Unpublished 2011-12 CRDC data that reveals that stark racial disparities persist in the administration of school discipline.
  2. Disciplinary actions that will trigger heightened scrutiny from DOE/DOJ when they result in racial disparities.
  3. The legal framework within which the Departments will consider allegations of racially discriminatory discipline practices.
  4. Examples of remedies to redress violations of racial discrimination.
  5. Best practice recommendations for school districts, administrators, teachers, and staff.

Click here to download the guidance package. Dignity in Schools also hosted a webinar explaining the new guidance and it can be downloaded here.

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!

Thanks to Dignity in Schools, Advancement Project, Equality Federation, and GSA Network for the information listed here.

To learn more about school to prison pipeline efforts in Georgia, check out these local organizations:

Gwinnett SToPP, Atlanta Community Engagement Team, Interfaith Children’s Movement, ACLU of Georgia

The Georgia Gay-Straight Alliance Youth Summit!

December 9th, 2013

 

GSA Summit cover 14

 

gsa summit 2012WHAT: The 4th Annual Georgia GSA Youth Summit is a free conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, allied, and intersex youth activists and allies who are dedicated to defeating homophobia and transphobia and creating safe, supportive schools for everyone. The day-long Summit offers education, entertainment, HIV testing, breakout sessions, advocacy, new friendships and it’s totally FREE for students!

Last year over 350 Georgia high school and college students attended and we expect the summit will be even larger this year! We also have sessions for adult allies so teachers, counselors, and parents are welcome too. Click HERE to Register!!

Help us keep this event free for youth by making a tax-deductible donation!

 

WHEN:  Saturday, February 15, 2014
Summit – 8:00am to 6:00pm (EST)
Talent Show – 8:00pm to 9:30pm

We will be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can stay on campus for the entire event!

WHERE:  Agnes Scott College
141 East College Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030

HOW: 

Directions from MARTA: Agnes Scott’s campus is a short three-block walk from Atlanta’s subway system, known as MARTA. Take the East-West line to Decatur Station. Exit the terminal on the Church Street side and head south (toward the corner of Trinity and Church). Use the pedestrian tunnel to pass beneath the railroad tracks; you will merge at the College Avenue entrance to campus.

Parking: Click here for a map of the campus. Free parking is available in the Parking Deck (P2), and once that is full the East Parking lot (P8) is also available.

We have a limited amount of travel funds available to help students coming from outside Atlanta.
Please email (Enable Javascript to see the email address) for more information on travel assistance.

Need a ride? Uber can help you get to the Summit for free*!

GSASummit2014 Uber promo-page-001

TALENT SHOW SIGN UP

2014 GSA Summit Talent Show

Young People’s Rights are Civil Rights!

Calling all performance artists and fans:

Are you passionate about social justice for all? What does liberty, freedom, and justice look like, sound like, feel like to you? Come share your talents and/or enthusiasm for the arts and young people’s rights among the masses, at the 2014 GSA Youth Summit Talent Show. The Talent Show is scheduled from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm in Presser Hall, following an on-campus dinner.

Please contact Lyndsay with the type of act, length of act, and stage name via e-mail:    lyndsaymorrow@csdecatur.net

 

RESOURCE FAIR VENDOR REGISTRATION

If you have a service or product that aims to benefit the LGBTQA community, we welcome you to register for the GSA Summit Resource Fair. We are charging a $50 fee for non-profit organizations and a slightly higher fee for for profit organizations; our aim is to raise money to promote programming and advocacy for LGBTQ youth and young adults, not to exclude grassroots organizations. We reserve the right to refuse vendors at our own discretion but we will not turn away an organization on the basis of payment.  Please contact Kim Lee Hughes, 2014 Georgia GSA Summit Chair @ (Enable Javascript to see the email address) if you need a payment waiver for the Resource Fair.

SOCIAL MEDIA

We’ll have live tweets during the event using the hashtag   #GSASummit14  

Twitter: @GASafeSchools
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheGeorgiaSafeSchoolsCoalition

Have any other questions about 2014 Georgia GSA Youth Summit?

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AT THE SUMMIT!!!

GSA summit 2013 talentshow

 

Jenna’s Love: A Scholarship for Fierce Youth Change Agents

December 8th, 2013

jennas love

Scholarship Description:
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!

Scholarship Amount:
$1000.00

Scholarship Criteria:
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 Summit on February 15, 2014 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 15, 2014

Email application materials to: Kristen Badger ((Enable Javascript to see the email address)), Anneliese Singh ((Enable Javascript to see the email address)), and Sir Jesse McNulty ((Enable Javascript to see the email address)).

Please direct any questions about the application process to Anneliese Singh at 404.849.8186.

Are Schools Creating Prisoners?

October 1st, 2013

pushout profile picJavon, 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.

September 28th – October 5th marks the 4th Annual National Week of Action of School Pushout.   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?

With that being said, we are asking people to participate in the National Week of Action on School Pushout this year to bring awareness to this problem!

There are many ways you can show your support. We have two events this week in Georgia:

Screening of Valentine Road followed by a community teach-in.
7pm Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 at The Phillip Rush Center
1530 Dekalb Avenue, Suite A
Film screening of the documentary Valentine Road followed by a community teach-in lead by members of GSSC, Georgia Equality and Gwinnett SToPP

1st Annual Graduation March and Rally
4pm Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
The march will begin at Scenic Hwy/GA-124 & Neal Blvd in Lawrenceville and conclude with rally at Lawrenceville Square on W. Crogan St. We are looking for more youth speakers to share their stories.

Also, here are two other suggestions:gsas4justice

  1. 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!
  1. 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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Aric Image Resized on pic resize  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

The Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp 2013

August 8th, 2013

Three weeks ago I piled into a van with seven Georgia youth and drove six sticky hours into the heart of Mississippi. We were on our way to the second annual Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp, a gathering of around 40 queer youth from across the south.

The camp was created collaboratively between several groups organizing across state lines: the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Georgia Equality, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center, and GSA Network were the main sponsors of the camp along with several other supporting organizations.

The camp was created in order to strengthen regional bonds and provide tools and support for the next generation of social justice leaders. The camp is primarily run by youth and attendees learn to use their students clubs (most often Gay-Straight Alliances) to work towards social justice for all, in their schools, community, and the world. Campers learned about the intersections of race, class, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation and how their identities and the struggles others face are interconnected.

Campers also had the opportunity to visit many significant Civil Rights historical sites, including Medgar Ever’s home, the COFO Center, the original building considered to be the “nerve center” of the Mississippi freedom movement. Campers learned first-hand about the turbulent struggle these activists experienced and their tactics for survival and radical change in the most segregated state in the South. The campers connected their struggle with the Civil Rights movement and learned the hard-won lessons from their victories and sacrifices.

For me, the most powerful moment happened on Saturday night while the campers were preparing for the Talent Show. The verdict for the Trayvon Martin case was released and we found out that George Zimmerman had been acquitted. After spending all day learning about racism through an institutional and historical lens, this ruling was a concrete example of the injustices we’d been discussing in theory.

There was an immediate and visceral outpouring of grief and anger; campers began to share their own stories of being targeted, discriminated against, and made to feel afraid, just because of how they looked. They shared stories about how they could have been Trayvon, how they had lost friends, how discrimination reaches beyond just gun violence. Some cried, some raged, some sang and others prayed, in the end everyone was affected by it and shared something in a raw and organic way that we never could have planned for.

Eventually, they wanted action. We quickly organized an impromptu candle light vigil and headed down to the Mississippi capitol where police were already waiting. We were turned away and instead held the candle light vigil in the parking lot of the hotel where we were staying.

The outpouring continued in words, songs and tears and as we stood there in solidarity with our candles, something special began to happen. Other residents at the hotel, people completely unrelated to the camp, began to walk over and silently join our circle. They shared that moment with us and we began the healing process together that night. It was a transformative experience for many of the youth, none of us, adults included, will forget where we were and who we were with when the verdict was released.

It was an intense four days; campers left with a much deeper understanding oppression and what they can do to change the injustices they experience and what a true community of resistance looks like. We went our separate ways and returned to our home states with new friends, perspectives, tools, and passion. These young leaders will be the future of our movement and formidable agents of change wherever they go.

A few campers shared what they got out of the experience:

“My favorite part of camp was definitely the Trans*Justice Workshop because being transgender is a foreign concept for lots of people. This showed us how to get the word out there and educate people to make transphobia less apparent.”

“At the camp I learned a lot about many things but the most important thing I took from the camp was the racial justice segment, it informed me a lot about the bias people face even in our own community. Also, I enjoyed the experience of the camp, meeting lots of great people and learning and hearing everybody’s story.”

“When I did this camp last year I never expected to fall in love with it or make the lifelong friends I did. But when I was asked to come back this year to be a leader I accepted right away, seeing different southern states come together to fight for not only our individual rights as people but for the rights of our fellow activists gives me so much hope for the future as we know it. The camp is nothing less than magic in its purest form. It makes me believe every time I go.”

Southeastern LGBTQ Youth Activist Camp!

May 17th, 2013

Check out the Camp Website!

It Gets Better – But when will that happen? Learn how to MAKE it better

This summer the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, in partnership with Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, GSA Network, Center for Artistic Revolution in Little Rock, Arkansas, PFLAG Tennessee and the Southern Poverty Law Center headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, will be offering the second Southeastern LGBTQ Youth Activist Camp! This LGBTQ Activist Camp is a summer training camp for LGBTQ youth with a focus through the Southern lens.camp-with-Little-Rock-9

The Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp serves high school and college aged young people in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida and Tennessee who have exhibited strong leadership and enthusiasm in their local area around issues affecting the LGBTQ community and young people.

The Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp will be 4 days long, and will feature intensive community building, skill building, political education and leadership training for current and potential GSA and other LGBTQ student activist club (Pride Alliance, Lambda Alliance) members that they can bring back to share at their schools and communities.

Participants come from a wide range of backgrounds and will learn how to:

 

  • Strengthen GSA/LGBTQ activist clubs through coalition building, strategic organizing and fundraising
  • Understand the legal rights of students and GSA clubs.
  • Oppose LGBTQ harassment and ostracism in school environments.
  • Run successful campaigns to change the climate on their campuses.
  • Recognize the ways that homophobia and transphobia are connected to racism, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism and other oppressions.
  • Work with school administration, teachers and school boards to fight LBGTQ oppression.
  • Learn effective lobbying skills, how to contact legislators and frame a message.

The camp is open to youth ages 14-23. If you would like more information about attending camp please contact your state’s representative(s).

Check out the Camp Website!


Mississippi:

Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition
Anna C. Davis, (Enable Javascript to see the email address)


Alabama:

Southern Poverty Law Center
R. Ashley Jackson, (Enable Javascript to see the email address)


Arkansas:

Center for Artistic Revolution
Kat Crisp, (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

 


Georgia:

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
Em Elliott, (Enable Javascript to see the email address)
Chris Kontopidis, (Enable Javascript to see the email address)


We are currently looking for representatives of statewide youth-focused organizations in the following states:

Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida

If you are a representative of such an organization please contact us at (Enable Javascript to see the email address)

Race to the Safe Zone!

April 7th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: April 20th

Time: 8 A.M.

Price $20

Please register by April 13th to ensure you will receive the correct shirt size!

Click Here to Register!

GSSC Documentaries and Discussion Guides are Now Available Online

March 7th, 2013

The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition created two documentaries in 2009 and 2010 focusing on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in Georgia high schools. Previously, we only had hard copies to distribute at our trainings but now the documentaries are available for free, online for all to use! We have also created a handy Facilitator’s Guide (pdf) to help encourage discussion around the topics brought up in the documentaries.

The videos will always be available in our Resources Section along with other useful materials.

“We Exist” – Collective Memories of Transgender Youth in Georgia High Schools (Full Video)

A Georgia Safe Schools Coalition Documentary (2010)

Directed by J. Roberts & A. Sykes
Produced by Corey Johnson, PhD, & Anneliese Singh, PhD

 

“Be There for Me” – Collective Memories of LGBTQ Youth in Georgia High Schools

A Georgia Safe Schools Coalition Documentary. (2009)

Directed by Rishi and Jyoti Kaneria
Produced by Corey Johnson, PhD, & Anneliese Singh, PhD

 

Download the Discussion Guide for Both Documentaries

GSSC Documentaries Facilitator’s Guide (pdf)

View all of our videos on our Youtube Channel (more to come soon!)

http://www.youtube.com/user/GASafeSchoolsTV

My Day at the GSA Youth Summit!

March 1st, 2013

By Jessy

Running on two cups of coffee and five hours of sleep, I stepped into Agnes Scott College for the 2013 Georgia youth GSA summit. The moment I stepped in, I was energized. The energy radiated off of everyone and there were over 350 people in attendance. Volunteers in blue shirts ran around setting up and checking people in. I immediately spotted people I had been working with for the past two years on LGBTQQIA issues. My group and I moved through the check-in line and towards the seating area. I had on a purple button up and a rainbow bowtie. I knew I could wear whatever I wanted today without fear of judgment. The only judgment I received was positive, “I LOVE YOUR BOWTIE!”

After getting my free breakfast, I found a table of youth from last year’s summit. It was wonderful to reconnect with them over our bagels and coffee. As the summit began, we were challenged to meet new people. I met a group of students who were working on making their GSA known, my first new connection of the day. The sessions had not even started, and we had already exchanged contact information and experiences. The friendly and open environment made it easy to talk to others in the room. Even if I were a shy person, it would have been hard to not make friends. The safe zone that encompassed the whole session made being myself easy. As someone who constantly has to hide who I am in my area, it was refreshing to be able to be me, all of me, every part of me, not just the parts that were socially accepted.

My first session was Aspiring Allies. The group was small and personal, allowing free-flowing conversation to be one of the main learning tools. After some introductions by the speakers, the class was challenged to think of ways in which they were or could be an ally. The session challenged everyone in the room to keep “Aspiring to be an ally,” because you are never REALLY done. My other sessions of the day were wide ranged in topic. It was honestly hard to choose which ones to go to because there were SO MANY. Luckily, I was able to go to some informational sessions. My goal for the day was to find ways that I could get more involved and be a better ally, that goal was well achieved.

During lunch, there were stands set up downstairs with information for different organizations and schools. Before lunch was over, my bag was filled with pamphlets and candy; it was almost like LGBTQQIA trick or treating.

At the end of the day, we had a speaker who I expected to be boring at first. After they began, though, I could not stop listening. The organizers of the Summit never failed to keep everyone entertained. At no point during the day did I ever feel like I had to hide myself. After the speaker, my group went out to dinner on our own.

After dinner, a large portion of the summit attendees came back to Agnes Scott for a talent show. During the talent show, people who signed up upon registration were able to perform. Some sang, some did stand-up comedy, some played instruments. No matter what they did, their performance was cheered on by the friendly crowd that filled the room.

Saying goodbye to my friends was the hardest part of the day (besides getting out of my oh so comfy bed). I refused to leave without a phone number, facebook name, or tumblr url. My favorite part of each summit is the connections I am able to make, that was no different this year. Last year’s 2012 summit got me hooked on the comfort and opportunities that are present at the GSA youth summit. I plan to feed my addiction every year possible.

The GSA Youth Summit is an annual event for middle school, high school, and college-aged young people hosted by the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition. The Summit offers a truly unique experience for queer youth and their allies living in the south, a full day of learning, networking, socializing, and advocating. The Summit provides leadership training skills, exciting youth-driven workshops, and support for students leading or trying to start a GSA. If you want to help support this event in the future please donate or email (Enable Javascript to see the email address)