During February 14-18, New York City public schools kicked off the second annual Respect For All (RFA) Week, an essential program to combat bullying and bias-based discrimination in the school environment.
For a decade, Make the Road New York’s LGBTQ Justice Project has organized and advocated for the New York City Department of Education to adopt these measures to address harassment of LGBTQ students in City schools.
Since 2002, young people at MRNY have been leading homophobia and transphobia workshops, founding Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) and organizing Pride Weeks in several Brooklyn and Queens high schools, reaching thousands of students and helping to initiate RFA Week. For young organizers like Tannavionne Cintron (pictured above), a recent graduate of the Brooklyn public high school, Bedford Academy, this work has been especially valuable:
"As a lesbian woman of color, it was important for me and other students that our school address homophobia in an open way," she said. "Some of these students don’t have a safe space at home to be themselves, and they also fear being judged or discriminated against by fellow students and teachers, who were supposed to be there to support them."
Our experience working closely with administrators, teachers and students in schools across the city has shown us how sustained and intentional anti-bias education and programming for students can transform the school environment and improve learning for all students. We will continue to push for mandatory anti-bias training for all staff and students at all schools in New York City.
We applaud the City Council, the Department of Education and our coalition partners, the Sikh Coalition, AALDEF, NIAGRA, NYCLU and PFLAG, for their vital work to initiate and implement this program. We look forward to building on this work together to ensure safety and dignity for our city’s students.
February 18, 2011
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: TGNCIQ Justice