August 20, 2009

>San Francisco student proposes local resolution to protect LGBT students

>

Christian Castaing, a 17-year-old bisexual high school student from San Francisco, is spearheading a local resolution that would strengthen measures protecting LGBT students in San Francisco's public schools:
Among other things, the resolution proposes that the school district establish a procedure for recording, tracking, reporting, and responding to incidences of harassment and discrimination, and that the procedures include responsive measures.

The resolution also asks school board members to work with members of the Board of Supervisors and the mayor to create greater awareness of discrimination faced by youths who are perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning or who are LGBTQ.

Many people see the San Francisco Bay Area as one of the nation's more LGBT-friendly regions, but Castiang and others recognize that much more has to be done locally to prevent the discrimination of LGBT teens. Last year, the San Francisco Unified School District launched a web site for educators and students, offering LGBT-inclusive curricular tools, advice on how to respond to harassment and bullying, and pointers for middle and high school students who want to start Gay-Straight Alliances at their schools.

However, many parents and local LGBT rights advocates have raised concerns about bullying, even in supposedly inclusive school environments. A 2007 survey of San Francisco students revealed that 4 out of 5 students had heard classmates make disparaging remarks such as "fag," "dyke" and "that's so gay." GLSEN's research brief Inside California Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students, which presents data compiled from the 2007 National School Climate Survey, suggests even higher numbers of anti-LGBT harassment statewide. The research brief demonstrates that 9 out of 10 LGBT middle and high school students in California heard homophobic remarks in school in the past year.

San Francisco's Youth Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Board of Education Youth Advisory Council have all voted in support of Castaing's resolution. The school board is expected to review and vote on the resolution within the next few months.

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