Archive for August, 2012

August 24 Webinar & Call for Young LGBT Immigrants

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Young LGBT Immigrants:  You may be eligible for immigration relief and work authorization!

On August 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security rolled out its new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which President Obama  announced in the Rose Garden two months ago.

Under DACA, eligible undocumented youth  under the age of 31 may be given a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” Deferred action will be valid for two years and may be renewed at the end of the two years.  Individuals who receive deferred action will receive employment authorization.

Join a webinar / call to find out if you are eligible to apply for deferred action and employment authorization!  Find out how to apply and resources available to assist you with your application!

Webinar / call information:

Date:  Friday, August 24 at 2 p.m. Eastern / 1 p.m. Central / Noon Mountain / 11 a.m. Pacific Time

Name of call:  Deferred Action for DREAMers

Webinar information:

  • Reserve your Webinar seat now at After registering you will receive a confirmation emailing containing information about joining the Webinar.
  • If you do not have computer access, you can simply call in toll free to:  1-877-273-4202, Conference Room: 9495854

Hosted by: CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers; Equality Federation; Immigration Equality; Lambda Legal; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Council of La Raza; National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA).

Presented by: Laura Vazquez, Immigration Legislative Analyst, National Council of La Raza

Introduction by Rachel Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality

Opening Remarks: Prerna Lal, “Undocuqueer”, Co-Founder, and Law Clerk, Benach Ragland LLP

For more information on DACA click here.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Monday, August 6th, 2012

We believe that all students deserve a safe, quality education free from bullying and harassment and we work hard to help Georgia school districts pass policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ youth.

However, in their zeal to address peer-to-peer bullying and harassment, policy makers and school officials across the country have often adopted harsh, zero-tolerance discipline policies and practices – such as suspensions, expulsions and arrests – that exclude students from school. This unyielding approach to discipline results in students being pushed out of school and placed onto a path into the criminal justice system called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The students primarily harmed by this approach are students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth.

Zero-tolerance disciplinary measures fail to address the root causes of bullying or end the cycle of bullying by teaching appropriate behavior. Responding to bullying with harsh discipline measures often hurts the very students they are designed to protect. To defend themselves, victims of bullying may carry weapons or employ other survival tactics that endanger the school community. As a result, those who have been bullied are more vulnerable to being suspended, expelled and arrested.

So-called “bullies” are typically youth struggling with their own insecurities (about intelligence, social skills, physical appearance, gender expression, etc.) and are just learning to understand themselves. Interventions that rely on exclusion and criminalization miss critical opportunities to respond students’ unique needs and teach misguided youth the social and emotional skills they will need to grow into healthy adults.

Zero tolerance practices and student-on-student bullying often affect students in the same way, resulting in lower academic scores, truancy, psychological trauma, diminished self-worth, acting out due to frustration or embarrassment, and dropping out of school altogether. Schools essentially become the bullies when they employ “get tough” tactics to address bullying.

Instead of criminalizing youth misbehavior, policymakers should implement common sense solutions that make schools safe environments for all students. Instead of pushing kids out of school, they should train teachers, administrators and security officers, invest more in guidance counselors and school psychologists, and facilitate the re-entry and re-enrollment of students returning from expulsions and long-term suspensions.

The Georgia Safe Schools Coalition in partnership with Georgia Equality work together to create a balance in Georgia schools by encouraging comprehensive anti-bullying policies that include LGBTQ youth, while simultaneously training teachers to properly and effectively respond to bullying in a way that does not re-victimize students and send them into the school-to-prison-pipeline.

If you are interested in learning more about the school-to-prison-pipeline check out the Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right report released by the National GSA Network, Advancement Project, and Alliance for Educational Justice.

We also encourage all Georgia folks to attend the “2nd Annual South Star: Safe Schools Convening of the South” in Atlanta, on September 15, 2012. South Star is a regional convening to discuss the intersections between the safe schools movement for LGBT students and the school-to-prison-pipeline.

If you are a teacher or school administrator interested in a safe space training, please email

SPARK Hosts Annual Convening: IGNITE 2012 Queer & Trans Youth of Color

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Scholarships for the IGNITE 2012 Queer & Trans Youth of Color Convening are now available!

Different scholarship options are available to IGNITE 2012 participants depending on your need that range from full scholarships (registration, transportation, and lodging coverage) to partial scholarships for registration and gas reimbursement.

The conference wants to make sure as many LGBTQ youth of color as possible are able to attend. If you work for an organization or have access to resources, they ask that you utilize those first and allow the scholarships to be made available to those without that level of support. In particular, the scholarships are intended to increase the participation of folks living in rural communities. These voices will be prioritized in the selection process.

To apply for a scholarship, register online and select scholarship. SPARK staff will follow up with you with a brief scholarship application. Please complete and return ASAP. The deadline for you to apply for a scholarship is August 15th. You will be notified about the status of your scholarship no later than the week of August 20th.

  1. Hear from dynamic speakers, participate in engaging, creative and relevant workshops that will help you create a better understanding of your body, your community and your future.
  2. Meet budding and experienced queer youth of color activists from throughout the south and learn about different campaigns and strategies they are undertaking to improve the lived experiences of queer youth of color in the region.
  3. Break the isolation of living as a queer youth of color in your community and build life-long relationships with other queer youth of color across the Southern region that share in your experiences.
  4. Be a part of History- IGNITE 2012, the first convening of its kind, is an immediate response to the lack of resources and centralized information, safe spaces, and support for queer and trans youth living and thriving in the South.
  5. Affordability – With registration, travel, and scholarships available, IGNITE 2012 is without a doubt one of the most affordable convenings or conferences you will ever be able to attend.
History of IGNITE 2012


Intentional trainings, innovative resources, and use of media to break isolation and build the power and leadership of queer and trans youth of color have led us to this exciting moment. The lasting relationships, skills learned, innovative media created, and risks taken in the spaces SPARK creates is not only possible for a handful of LGBTQ youth of color – it’s possible for an entire region. It is time to provide an opportunity for hundreds of LGBTQ youth of color to learn, to build, to find themselves in each other, and continue to build a Southern region where we can live our lives with dignity, respect, and hope in our small towns, urban centers, and places in between; in a dear region we call home.