The 2011-2012 school year is gearing up with a lot of promise. This month, The Houston Independent School District passed a nondiscrimination policy that is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression for more than 230,000 HISD students, teachers, faculty and staff. In a unanimous vote, the school board passed the new measure, which calls for disciplinary action when harassment is substantiated.
“What we hope is that this will pave the way for GLBT and Questioning youth to recognize their adult school allies without those allies fearing that they could lose their jobs,” says Deb Murphy, Youth Services Specialist at Montrose Counseling Center. She goes on to say that students may have an easier time organizing Gay Straight Alliances in their schools now that GLBT teachers, faculty and staff are protected.
To that end, on Saturday, Sept. 17, Montrose Counseling Center will co-host “2011 Voices of Houston LGBTQ Youth Summit: Taking Back Our Schools” in the GLBT Cultural Center at 401 Branard St. The day-long workshop will help youth connect with one another, share advice, and learn how to organize and become their own advocates in schools. A speaker from the ACLU will talk about GLBTQ students’ rights, and workshops will include “How to Have a Kick-Ass GSA” and “Making Your GSA and School Trans-inclusive.”
Visit the website for more information at www.montrosecounselingcenter.org/2011voices. The event is open to all Houston-area GLBT and Questioning youth, and their allies, and is being underwritten by The Diana Foundation. GLSEN Houston, HATCH, the Texas GSA Network, and the University of Houston’s Urban Talent Research Institute are co-hosting the event. The workshop is free for participants age 17 and younger, and there is a small fee for adults. School faculty and staff are welcome to attend.