Are Schools Creating Prisoners?

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?

Also, here are two other suggestions:

  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.

GSSC is Proud to Offer Two Scholarships to LGBTQIA+ Youth!

The Cheryl Courtney-Evans Memorial Scholarship for QYOC 

Scholarship Description:

The GSSC Scholarship provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Queer Youth of Color at or with the intent to attend a Post-Secondary Institution. 

This scholarship is in recognition of the educational disparities faced by communities of color.  It is the hope of GSSC that this scholarship will advance minority educational equality by providing an additional source of funding for post-secondary expenses. The GSSC Scholarship provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Queer Youth of Color at or with the intent to attend a Post-Secondary Institution. 

This scholarship is named after Ms. Cheryl Courtney-Evans. Ms. Cheryl,  co-founder and executive director of Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth (TILTT), provided support and advocated for Atlanta’s transgender community, and participated in human rights efforts in the greater Atlanta area and beyond.  

Scholarship Amount:
$1000.00

Scholarship Criteria:
This scholarship of $1,000 will be awarded to a very special youth who:

  • An LGBTQIA+ Youth (17-24 years old);

  • Is a resident of Georgia

  • Has the intent to attend a Post-Secondary Educational Institution.

  • From a Historically Marginalized or Under-Represented Community; 

  • Has a strong commitment or interest in Activism and Social Justice.

  • Willingness to participate in an acknowledgement program [attend ceremony, make a video or written thank you]

  • Believes in the radical notion of inclusion when building community that is sustainable and advancing for all.This scholarship will be awarded to a very special youth who:

·  Scholarship Application Materials:

  1.  At least one (1) letter of support. (Teacher, Mentor, Fellow Activist, Community Member, etc.)

  2. One (1) Personal Essay describing your educational goals and how you reflect the scholarship criteria. 

Scholarship Application Deadline: Application materials are due September 27, 2019.

Please email materials, using the subject: QYOC SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION, to Plandestiny@gmail.com

* All scholarship money will be paid out directly to the qualifying institution on behalf of the student. The school will apply the scholarship money to educational expenses and any surplus will be distributed directly to the student. Evidence of Acceptance, Matriculation, or Enrollment must be provided prior to the funds being disbursed to the Registrar/Institution. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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

Scholarship Description:
The GSSC Scholarship provides a $1,000 scholarship to a LGBTQIA+ youth at or with the intent to attend a Post-Secondary Institution. 

This scholarship is named after Jenna Thomas. Jenna was an amazing human being, as well as an influential community organizer, activist, and advocate. She dedicated her life to  making the world a better place by addressing issues of White Supremacy and privilege and advocating for queer and trans young people through leading workshops and seminars to educate others and personally mentoring her friends and family.

Jenna was a down-to-earth, authentic, and compassionate person. She had a very unique sense of humor and was always kind to others who were different and/or similar to her. If you ever met Jenna, your life was transformed – even in a small amount of time. Jenna helped us believe in the power of love, connection, and community! Oh, and by the way, Jenna was a fierce White, young trans woman, and nurse who liberated herself and others along her journey. Hey Miss Jenna – We love you!

Scholarship Amount:
$1000.00

Scholarship Criteria:
This scholarship of $1,000 will be awarded to a very special youth who:

  • An LGBTQIA+ Youth (17-24 years old);

  • Is a resident of Georgia

  • Has the intent to attend a Post-Secondary Educational Institution.

  • Has a strong commitment or interest in Activism and Social Justice.

  • Embodies the Spirit of Jenna Thomas: Has an excellent sense of humor, 

  • Believes in the power of love, friendship and leadership to transform the world into a better place. 

  • Demonstrates kindness and compassion to others in meaningful ways.

  • Willingness to participate in an acknowledgement program [attend ceremony, make a video or written thank you].

·  Scholarship Application Materials:

  1.  At least one (1) letter of support. (Teacher, Mentor, Fellow Activist, Community Member, etc.)

  2. One (1) Personal Essay describing your educational goals and how you reflect the scholarship criteria. 

Scholarship Application Deadline: Application materials are due September 27, 2019.

Please email materials, using the subject: JLS SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION, to Plandestiny@gmail.com

* All scholarship money will be paid out directly to the qualifying institution on behalf of the student. The school will apply the scholarship money to educational expenses and any surplus will be distributed directly to the student. Evidence of Acceptance, Matriculation, or Enrollment must be provided prior to the funds being disbursed to the Registrar/Institution. 

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

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.

Just click here to download this resource! 

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 Schooland 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 stateand national partners!

Thanks to Dignity in SchoolsAdvancement ProjectEquality 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 SToPPAtlanta Community Engagement TeamInterfaith Children’s MovementACLU of Georgia

Georgia’s Own Queer Youth – Their Experience of QYLTS Camp

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.

One of the great things about the space provided at this camp were the gender-neutral bathrooms. Waking up on the morning of the second day and having the option of showering in a gender-neutral bathroom, a trans-identified bathroom, a male-identified bathroom or a female-identified bathroom was a reassuring thing – it reassured the queerness of the space, and encouraged a feeling of safety and belonging.

On that flipside, without being pessimistic, it feels necessary to be critical of the fact that shortly during the second day we lost one of our gender-neutral bathroom spaces within the camp space due to the many different people and activities/events that were going on at the Agnes Scott campus on that Thursday. We were able to designate different bathrooms as gender neutral but having to move them at all still shows the need for these conversations and education. Gender neutral bathrooms are helpful for everyone, cisgender people included!

The second day was powerful, important and busy. There was a weird framing, having to discuss recent events happenings in Atlanta – the attacks against two trans women of color on MARTA and the attack on a gender non-conforming individual at Little Five Points – as we intended to use MARTA to get to Little Five Points.

Despite these things, our group, the camp participants, had a great experience travelling via MARTA, and being in Little Five Points (despite maybe, the lots of walking). The opportunity to be in Little Five Points and to visit Charis Books, one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the United States and the only one currently existing in the Southeast.

That second day continued to get better with a visit to a local community center, where we were able to experience a presentation by an organization called Cop Watch. Which was an opportunity for us to be empowered around something that can be absolutely scary, and that is dealing with cops. We were presented many skits during our time with Cop Watch, and we had some chance to laugh, and laughing at these sorts of things can be seen as kind of downplaying the seriousness of the issue – but I think with such a serious issue being able to laugh at it reminds us that we do have power over it, and that we have our rights.

The second day ended with a very important session. A presentation and discussion around safe sex, and particularly within that, Partner Negotiation.

We were able to talk about the S.T.O.P. method, which is: Say No, Talk it Out, Offer Explanations and Provide Alternatives.

We also talked about the Consent is Sexy campaign, a campaign that attempts to normalize, regularize and popularize consent, which is really crucial, especially on college campuses across the country.

Hands down day three was most inspiring. The day started with a session on ‘Understanding White Supremacy and Racial Justice’ including caucuses around identity and a white caucus (to step away and allow space for the People of Color caucus and the Mixed Identity caucus and so that people self-identified as white could explore and further understand their white privilege).

We also observed oppression in an intersectional light via the Octopus of Power and Oppression Model, which shows White Supremacy, Capitalism and Patriarchy to be interconnected and to have eight branches from those three categories including things like Racism, Ageism and Cisgenderism.

To go along with that model we looked at the four levels of oppression; Institutional, Inter-community, Interpersonal and Internalized. Unpacking those things deeper campers observed the ways that oppression and attacks can be overt and covert. These are important concepts to carry with us as we continue to organize in our GSAs throughout the state and it is critical that we don’t leave any of our identities behind while doing this work. Racial justice is a queer issue and justice for one group isn’t enough to free us all.

That was all before noon of the third day, and by noon campers had eaten lunch and were traveling to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, for a tour of the center and sites local to it and relevant to the history of MLK Jr. and people of color in Atlanta and in the social activism movement in America.

That trip can not be understated. Visiting the King center, reading all of the history, inspiring and heart-breaking and wonderful as it all was, and going to see MLK Jr.’s birth home as well as the original Ebenezer Baptist Church. Realizing the way that mainstream education can white-wash this history, this black activist history. The way we hear two or three minutes of the ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ in school, but don’t learn about the economic justice MLK was dreaming about, or the end to the Vietnam war he was preaching for, or the racial equality for every race that he marched for. As young activists, it was reaffirming to spend time learning fuller history of this activist that was taken away far too early in his life and in his work.

Campers came back from that excursion to a moment to bond and release the tension that had been building up over the camp – noticing the great forces we stood against, and working through our own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Campers had a chance to participate in and enjoy a talent show.

From bassoon and violin playing, to poetry reading and singing, to dancing and group karaoke one thing that is very clear is that southern queers, along with being really awesome activists, are really talented and passionate.

The final day was an intense one, as campers engaged in a micro-community complete with a capitalist economy, a university, a government, a bank as well as cops and a jail. Exploring the different ways that capitalism affects different socioeconomic groups we observed (or didn’t observe as was the case for those acting the upper class) how those who were poor were more likely to be arrested, as were people of color, regardless of whether or not they were poor or middle class. We observed the way in which the poor class was turned away from and exploited by the university. The bank, it was shown, charged higher rates to the poor and gave supplies to the rich for free, while the jobs provided less pay for more work depending on one’s class.

It was an emotional exercise, but it was not the final punctuation, and necessarily so. To finish out the camp we looked at how we could take everything we had learned and apply it to our GSA’s, or to starting a GSA or community organization back where we live, and then we were able to connect with the youth in our state and our state lead to discuss next steps, which, amongst Georgia youth, was a positive, optimistic and energized experience.

There’s a lot of work to be done between here and next year at Alabama, watch out Georgia, because here we come with a crew of amazing youth leaders!

2018 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 6:15 PM (EST)
Decatur, GA

Click here for tickets

SPONSOR:

A Project of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC) and its partner organizations (e.g., Lambda Legal, Georgia Equality, Agnes Scott College)

GENERAL INFO:

The 2018 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit is a time to meet youth from around the state to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated for action. It will run from 9:00-6:15, and will offer education, entertainment, breakout sessions, advocacy, and new friendships.
There will be a social/talent show.

PEVIOUS Year’s Programs:

(A SAMPLE of what might be offered this year- Specific sessions have not yet been determined)

Artful Activism for the Queer-minded
Explore social justice and declare your views as we talk about intersections of oppression and create visual art. Participants will be invited to display their artful activism at the GSA Summit Talent Show.

Ask Questions of Affirming Parents

For youth only! A panel of affirming parents will answer questions that are hard for you to ask your own parents. The panel will be introduced & then the floor will be open for questions.

Healing Space for Queer and Trans* Youth of Color

Join a safer space for queer and trans* youth of color to address mental health & emotional wellness, as well as examine shame as a second layer of pain. An art session will build healing & self-expression.

Let’s Talk Sex! Communication, Boundaries, and Consent

Navigating sex is complicated. Come learn how to communicate, set boundaries, and center enthusiastic consent in ways that empower and respect our bodies and sexualities.

Unpacking the Mainstream Conversation: Sexuality and Religion

Many images and thoughts come to mind when we think about religion and sexuality. Join a discussion about those ideas, how our assumptions are shaped, what resources may helpful, reflect on our experiences, and develop an action plan to ally religion and LGBTQ communities.

Starting a GSA with GLSEN AtlantaThere are lots of challenges for starting a GSA, especially in the South. Let’s talk about those challenges and resources that can help. We will also work with you on issues you’re facing on your campus.

Maintaining your GSA with GLSEN Atlanta

So you started a GSA. Now what? Let’s discuss maintaining your GSA, attracting new members, engaging activities, fundraising ideas, and a new GLSEN Atlanta GSA Curriculum developed by student leaders.

Unwriting Gender: Building a Revolution

While mainstream visibility of trans and gender non-conforming folks is steadily increasing, it has yet to acknowledge or make space for the ever-expanding ways in which people “show up” in their gender. This workshop will cover concepts surrounding the social construction of sex and gender, pop culture, and the million plus ways queer & trans folks challenge and explode the gender binary.

Push Back Against the School to Prison Pipeline!

Talk with a local organizer from Gwinnett SToPP and learn how to push back against the school to prison pipeline, a system funneling students toward incarceration instead of graduation. Share your story & advocate!

Writing Yourself Into the World: Storytelling for Social Justice

Elizabeth Anderson of Charis Books & Charis Circle, the nation’s oldest feminist bookstore, will guide participants writing about the important stories in their lives as LGBTQIA people and how to best express those stories to create change. Open to all experience levels.

Understanding your Body as a Site of Liberation

The human body is a miracle of nature, but what happens when we impose the gender binary system on this complexity and what are implications for folks who are intersex? Come share, write, create & hold space for us to collectively work out our gender stuff.

WE ARE AWESOME: On continuing to love & support ourselves & each other
Join a collaborative conversation about all the things we currently do, want to do, or want to do better if we’re having a rough time, including ways we can be there and show up for others in our community who may be struggling. We are all in this together so this will be an interactive discussion where we can learn more from each other about different ways we each may cope when feelings of sadness, anxiety, dysphoria, and different forms of oppression (among other kinds of feels) creep into our lives.

Nourishing Our Spirits

Cooking can be a somatic practice that allows us to ‘drop in’ to our bodies. Practice making healing food and see what arises when we engage what Lorde described as our “deepest and non-rational knowledge,” the information stored in our bodies! We’ll share how the food we eat tells a story of power, struggle, and desire. This session is for folks seeking to build beloved friendships & community through food.

PREVIOUS Year’s

Sessions for GSA Advisors, Counselors, Teachers and Parent/Guardians

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part A

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include LGBTQ 101, school safety, and the role of family members in “coming out.”

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part B

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include sex and dating, mental health, and college considerations.

What our kids need and what we need!

Session for parents, counselors and GSA advisors. Lower Evans. Come chat with us during lunch!

Housing

If you are looking for an LGBTQ friendly place to stay near the summit, we encourage you to make reservations at the Courtyard by Marriott in Decatur. You can access their webpage at courtyarddecatur.com

Talent Show!

At the end of the event we have an exciting talent show. Please plan to stay. If you would like to participate, please note it on this site. In addition, email Jesse McNulty (sirjesse@gmail.com) with the type, length of act, and stage name.

Resource Fair

There is also a Resource Fair of LGBTQ organizations and supports groups to share info. Many colleges have tables sharing about their school and the GSA community there. For many high school students, this was a key resource!

2019 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit

Georgia Safe Schools Coalition
Saturday, February 16, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 6:15 PM (EST)
Decatur, GA

Click here for tickets

SPONSOR:

A Project of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC) and its partner organizations (e.g., Lambda Legal, Georgia Equality, Agnes Scott College)

GENERAL INFO:

The 2019 Georgia GSA/LGBTQ+ Youth Summit is a time to meet youth from around the state to be encouraged, inspired, and motivated for action. It will run from 9:00-6:15, and will offer education, entertainment, breakout sessions, advocacy, and new friendships.
There will be a social/talent show.

PEVIOUS Year’s Programs:

(A SAMPLE of what might be offered this year- Specific sessions have not yet been determined)

Artful Activism for the Queer-minded
Explore social justice and declare your views as we talk about intersections of oppression and create visual art. Participants will be invited to display their artful activism at the GSA Summit Talent Show.

Ask Questions of Affirming Parents

For youth only! A panel of affirming parents will answer questions that are hard for you to ask your own parents. The panel will be introduced & then the floor will be open for questions.

Healing Space for Queer and Trans* Youth of Color

Join a safer space for queer and trans* youth of color to address mental health & emotional wellness, as well as examine shame as a second layer of pain. An art session will build healing & self-expression.

Let’s Talk Sex! Communication, Boundaries, and Consent

Navigating sex is complicated. Come learn how to communicate, set boundaries, and center enthusiastic consent in ways that empower and respect our bodies and sexualities.

Unpacking the Mainstream Conversation: Sexuality and Religion

Many images and thoughts come to mind when we think about religion and sexuality. Join a discussion about those ideas, how our assumptions are shaped, what resources may helpful, reflect on our experiences, and develop an action plan to ally religion and LGBTQ communities.

Starting a GSA with GLSEN AtlantaThere are lots of challenges for starting a GSA, especially in the South. Let’s talk about those challenges and resources that can help. We will also work with you on issues you’re facing on your campus.

Maintaining your GSA with GLSEN Atlanta

So you started a GSA. Now what? Let’s discuss maintaining your GSA, attracting new members, engaging activities, fundraising ideas, and a new GLSEN Atlanta GSA Curriculum developed by student leaders.

Unwriting Gender: Building a Revolution

While mainstream visibility of trans and gender non-conforming folks is steadily increasing, it has yet to acknowledge or make space for the ever-expanding ways in which people “show up” in their gender. This workshop will cover concepts surrounding the social construction of sex and gender, pop culture, and the million plus ways queer & trans folks challenge and explode the gender binary.

Push Back Against the School to Prison Pipeline!

Talk with a local organizer from Gwinnett SToPP and learn how to push back against the school to prison pipeline, a system funneling students toward incarceration instead of graduation. Share your story & advocate!

Writing Yourself Into the World: Storytelling for Social Justice

Elizabeth Anderson of Charis Books & Charis Circle, the nation’s oldest feminist bookstore, will guide participants writing about the important stories in their lives as LGBTQIA people and how to best express those stories to create change. Open to all experience levels.

Understanding your Body as a Site of Liberation

The human body is a miracle of nature, but what happens when we impose the gender binary system on this complexity and what are implications for folks who are intersex? Come share, write, create & hold space for us to collectively work out our gender stuff.

WE ARE AWESOME: On continuing to love & support ourselves & each other
Join a collaborative conversation about all the things we currently do, want to do, or want to do better if we’re having a rough time, including ways we can be there and show up for others in our community who may be struggling. We are all in this together so this will be an interactive discussion where we can learn more from each other about different ways we each may cope when feelings of sadness, anxiety, dysphoria, and different forms of oppression (among other kinds of feels) creep into our lives.

Nourishing Our Spirits

Cooking can be a somatic practice that allows us to ‘drop in’ to our bodies. Practice making healing food and see what arises when we engage what Lorde described as our “deepest and non-rational knowledge,” the information stored in our bodies! We’ll share how the food we eat tells a story of power, struggle, and desire. This session is for folks seeking to build beloved friendships & community through food.

PREVIOUS Year’s

Sessions for GSA Advisors, Counselors, Teachers and Parent/Guardians

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part A

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include LGBTQ 101, school safety, and the role of family members in “coming out.”

Questions Parents/Guardians Ask Counselors: Part B

How can I be supportive of my LGBTQ child/family member when I need support myself? Chat with a school counselor about the questions family members often ask. Topics include sex and dating, mental health, and college considerations.

What our kids need and what we need!

Session for parents, counselors and GSA advisors. Lower Evans. Come chat with us during lunch!

Housing

If you are looking for an LGBTQ friendly place to stay near the summit, we encourage you to make reservations at the Courtyard by Marriott in Decatur. You can access their webpage at courtyarddecatur.com

Talent Show!

At the end of the event we have an exciting talent show. Please plan to stay. If you would like to participate, please note it on this site. In addition, email Jesse McNulty (sirjesse@gmail.com) with the type, length of act, and stage name.

Resource Fair

There is also a Resource Fair of LGBTQ organizations and supports groups to share info. Many colleges have tables sharing about their school and the GSA community there. For many high school students, this was a key resource!

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

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 Youth Summit at Agnes Scott College April 24th 2018.

Scholarship Application Materials:

  • 1 personal essay (1 page) describing how the applicant meets the above criteria

  • 1-2 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: February 10, 2018

Email application materials to:

  • Kristen Badger (kristenrbadger@gmail.com)

  • Kijua Sanders-McMurtry (kjsandersmcmurtry@agnesscott.edu)

  • Sir Jesse McNulty (sirjesse@gmail.com)