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Georgia Southern University LGBTQ & Allies Conference

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Saturday, November 3, 2012
8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Russell Union 
Sponsored by the Multicultural Student Center

Come address issues facing the LGBTQ community in a safe and open environment and examine ways to eliminate stereotypes. The conference will also discuss advocacy, self-care, and leadership skills which will allow for visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning issues in campus communities. Registration fee is $20 for students with ID ($25 without student ID) and will include a continental breakfast, lunch, t-shirt, and access to all sessions. Registration deadline is October 14th.  On site registration is $25 for students and $30 for non-students.

To register for the conference go to this link: http://tiny.cc/GSU_LGBTQ

For more information, please visit the Multicultural Student Center located on the 2nd floor of the Russell Union, or check out the website at www.georgiasouthern.edu/MSC,  call 912-478-5409 or by email msc@georgiasouthern.edu.

 

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Monday, September 17th, 2012

September is Suicide Prevention Month – a good time to recognize organizations that provide preventative and crisis intervention specific to LGBT youth and young adults. Suicide is a serious problem, one that affects young people in general and LGBT youth specifically. Check out some info below, taken from the Trevor Project, and go to their website to learn more. If you are feeling suicidal remember that you are not alone. If you need support, please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 to speak with a trained volunteer counselor.

Did You Know?

  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (2007 , The American Association of Suicidology, Grossman, D’Augelli, “Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors”)

Suicide Prevention

Warning Signs of Suicide

Often a suicidal person may give a sign or hint in some way that they plan to attempt suicide. Here are some warning signs and facts you should be aware of.


RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS

Have you heard someone…?

Describe a specific plan for suicide: “I’ve thought about how I’d do it.”

Expressing hopelessness or helplessness: “Things will never get better for me.”

Talk positively about a suicide death: “I think she was brave for going through with it.”

Say goodbye to important people: “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. I’ll miss you.”

Express a lack of interest in the future: “It won’t matter soon anyway.”

Express a negative attitude toward self: “I don’t deserve to live.”

Express suicidal feelings: “Lately I’ve felt like ending it all.”

Have you noticed someone…?

Using drugs or alcohol more than usual

Behaving differently than how they usually do

Giving away their most valuable possessions

Losing interest in their favorite activities or hobbies

Planning for death by writing a will or letter

Have you felt…?

Helpless

Unimportant

Trapped

Overwhelmed

Unmotivated

Completely alone

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are not alone.

Each year over 30,000 teens and young adults call the Trevor Lifeline when they recognize these signs and need someone to talk to.

The Trevor Project is here for you 24/7. If you need support, please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 to speak with a trained volunteer counselor.

LOWERING THE RISK

Fortunately there are several factors which can help lower someone’s risk of considering suicide:

  • Easy access to effective, culturally competent care
  • Support from medical and mental health care professionals
  • Coping, problem solving, and conflict resolution skills
  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide
  • Strong connections to family
  • Family acceptance of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity
  • A feeling of safety, support, and connectedness at school through peer groups like Gay-Straight Alliances.
  • Positive connections with friends who share similar interests
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide
  • Positive role models and self esteem


TALKING ABOUT SUICIDE

Because suicide is such an emotional topic, several organizations have come together to create resources to help people talk about suicide in a safe way:

  1. Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN): “Talking about Suicide and LGBT Populations
  2. American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, and others: “Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide
  3. The Trevor Project’s Talk To Me initiative is asking people to take a “Talk to me pledge” to encourage young people to let friends know they are willing to be supportive when times are hard. Just three simple words that, when said out-loud, could help save a life.
  4. The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) has created materials that have been designated as best practices in suicide prevention by the National Suicide Prevention Registry. Multicultural and multilingual family education booklets, Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families support their LGBT children can be downloaded for free.

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 https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/737026030 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, DreamActivist.org 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.http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35006/images/stpp%20lgbt%20protest.jpg

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 info@georgiasafeschoolscoalition.org.

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

Monday, August 6th, 2012
http://ignite.sparkrj.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IGNITE-2012-Flyer.jpg

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

Kayla

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.

CLICK TO READ THE HISTORY OF IGNITE 2012!

First SouthEast LGBTQ Activist Camp a Huge Success!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Originally  posted at the MSSC site.

Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp came to a close around 4pm Saturday July 21st, 2012. The event marked the first time this large of a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight youth came together to learn about anti-oppression work. The coalition of five states sponsoring the event brought together approximately 50 youth from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas. The coalition partners included sponsor organizations Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and Gay Straight Alliance Network (based in California) along with host organization Center for Artistic Revolution. Youth from the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition led a workshop on Trans Justice. The Southern Poverty Law Center of Alabama and PFLAG Maryville of Tennessee also sponsored youth from their states.

The camp is the first of what hopes to be an annual event. Campers from both Georgia and Mississippi were already beginning to claim next year’s location. Participants ranged from 14-25 years old and many of which already had experience working on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The goal of the camp was to create safer schools and communities for LGBTQ youth and their allies by providing a more intersectional approach to Gay Straight Alliance work and encourage youth to take back skills to be leaders in their own schools communities and beyond.

Among the Georgia participants were youth from JustUsATL.

JustUsATL Inc. is a 100% youth-run group that provides a safe space for the Greater Atlanta area’s LGBTQQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Asexual) youth. They offer weekly discussion groups, a peer-led mental health group, HIV/STI testing, and social events.

Other participants included youth trainers from William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation who led a workshop on racism and white supremacy in the Southern US.

Founded in 1999, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship, and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.

Along with youth and trainer-led workshops, campers had the opportunity to visit the historic Little Rock Central High where in 1957 racial integration was the cause for protests, harassment and threats to the Little Rock Nine. Campers were able to meet one of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown in a rare appearance at the museum.

For many youth this was the first time they had traveled outside of their state, or the first time they were able to be in a completely safe and queer-friendly environment full of allies. By the end of the camp, participants had a deeper understanding of systems of oppressions, how our struggles are connected to others, and how to be a good ally in the various movements. Not to mention life-long friends! It was a historic event, the first of its kind in the SouthEast, and we will work together to make this camp a yearly tradition to help build and grow our own youth leaders here in the South.

Check out some photos and videos from the Camp.

For more information on the Camp or to find out how you can learn more about GSSC’s exciting opportunities and trainings please contact us at info@georgiasafeschoolscoalition.org.

Heading to Little Rock for the first ever South East LGBTQ Activist Camp!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

It Gets Better – But when will that happen? Youth Leaders can learn how to MAKE it better

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

The Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp serves high school and college aged young people in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama 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 a 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.

ALL expenses are paid by GSSC and other camp sponsors and we have twelve Georgia youth signed up and ready to go for this first historic camp.

Check back here for more updates from the camp!

Thank You Hotlanta Softball League!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The fundraiser for the SouthEast LGBTQ Activist Camp went well beyond our fundraising goals. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Atlanta’s finest softball teams, the Coalition received a check for over $2,000! This money will be used to send 12 LGBTQ  Georgia youth to camp at the end of July where they will learn leadership skills, community building and strategic organizing for GSAs in their schools.

The extra money from this fundraiser will be used to create more Safe Zone hand manuals for Georgia schools counselors and it is the Coalition’s goal to put one of these binders in the hands of every counselor in Georgia. Feel free to download the binder in its entirety here or you can just download the chapters you need here.

A huge thank you to the Hotlanta Softball League for making this all possible! We appreciate the support of our community and the awesome players on the teams.

GSSC Fundraiser June 24

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

We have another fundraiser coming up this weekend in partnership with the Hotlanta Softball League! Enjoy the softball game on Sunday afternoon followed by a Beer Bust at WOOFS.

All money raised from this event will be used to fund the first ever SouthEast LGBTQ Leadership Camp, a summer training camp for LGBTQ youth with a focus through the southern lens. The camp is hosted in partnership with the GSA Network, Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, Center for Artistic Revolution in Little Rock, Arkansas, PFLAG Tennessee and the Southern Poverty Law Center headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama!

So come down to the game on Sunday, enjoy a drink, buy some raffle tickets and help send LGBTQ youth to camp this summer!

Annual Day of Silence

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Today is the Day of Silence, a day first organized by students sixteen years ago in response to anti-LGBTQ bullying and discrimination. On this day, students across the nation (and in 60 other countries!) will be consciously silent in school, a symbolic act to bring attention to the name calling, bullying and harassment that LGBTQ people face on a daily basis. The Day of Silence is about raising awareness and creating a culture of respect in schools. And though students are choosing to be silent, the intent is that their actions will cause more people to speak up, start more conversations and encourage broader understanding.

If you’re a student who is participating, your brave actions show other students that there can and will be a change in America’s schools. You are changing hearts and minds — helping people to become more accepting and understanding.

If you’re a teacher, please take a moment to encourage any of your students who are participating in the Day of Silence. Even a small word of encouragement can speak volumes for these courageous young people.

If you want more information, please visit the official Day of Silence facebook page at:

http://www.dayofsilence.org/