Montrose Counseling Center’s Safe Zones Project is listed as the first reason Houston and Harris County recently were selected as one of the 100 Best Communities in 2010 by America’s Promise Alliance, a “cross-sector partnership of 400+ corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups that are passionate about improving lives and changing outcomes for children.” Safe Zones Project is an in-school counseling program for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and their family members. The counseling is provided by a professional therapist from MCC with a minimum of a Master’s Degree. Youth who are interested in speaking to a therapist simply need to contact their Communities In Schools representative to set up an appointment. Accessibility is critical for these adolescents, many of whom do not have a lot of support among their family and friends.
Therapists and educators are able to go to the schools and provide cultural diversity training to school administration and staff. This is very important given that the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights recently issued a Federal Warning Letter to Schools on Bullying (link opens .pdf). Assistant Secretary Russlynn Ali issued the letter to public schools to let them know that they must take appropriate steps to end harassment that, “may include separating the accused harasser and the target, providing counseling for the target and/or harasser, or taking disciplinary action against the harasser.”
“It isn’t easy for us to get into all the schools,” says Ann J. Robison, PhD, Executive Director of MCC. “Each school operates independently in terms of whether or not they will allow us in.” It is for this reason that we are asking the community to share information about the Safe Zones Project with any Middle- or High-School-age student, as well as any faculty and staff from Houston area schools. For more information about Safe Zones, please contact Youth Services Specialist, Deb Murphy, at 713.529.0037 x353, or email us by email.
Safe Zones Project is made possible through grant funding from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.