One Colorado Kicks Off LGBTQ Education Week

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families released the following statements from One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos, and Youth Program Coordinator, Jordan Anthony, on LGBTQ Education Week, recognized from September 30th – October 4th, 2019.

“One Colorado’s work is far from over, especially when it comes to improving outcomes for our youth. Even with over 266 Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) currently active in schools all across Colorado, LGBTQ youth still experience bullying at nearly two times the rate of their non-LGBTQ peers and contemplate suicide a rate four to five times higher than their non-LGBTQ counterparts. We must do more to close the gap for our youth. Our goal is to ensure that each and every student that walks into their school is entering a space that welcomes them as they are and is fully equipped to meet their specific needs – be it academic, social, emotional, or cultural,” says Daniel Ramos, Executive Director.

“Students are able to succeed and become the best learners they can be when they are part of affirming and accepting school communities. When LGBTQ youth feel safe in school, we see correlated increases in GPAs and decreases in absenteeism. It is the privilege and the obligation of youth-serving adults to ensure that those feelings of safety are felt equitably by all students,” says Jordan Anthony, Youth Program Coordinator.

What is a GSA? Gender and Sexualities Alliances or Gay-Straight Alliances, are student-organized and student-run clubs that create safe, welcoming, and affirming spaces for LGBTQ youth and their allies in school. Young advocates in these clubs may also work to educate their peers about the LGBTQ community and work to create policy changes to support LGBTQ youth.

Who can start a GSA? A student in any middle or high school that supports other non-curricular clubs can start a GSA. For students who want to know how to get started, One Colorado published “Get It Started: A Guide for Developing Gay-Straight Alliances”.

Why GSAs? When schools are asked why they don’t have or support a GSA on their campus, common refrains are, “There are no LGBTQ students in this school” or “Because we’re committed to respecting everyone, we don’t need a GSA here”. GLSEN’s 2017 Colorado School Climate Survey shows that LGBTQ youth lack the spaces where they can simply “be” in the same way that their non-LGBTQ peers can. This is one of the reasons that the presence of a GSA in a school is correlated with a decrease in bullying, discrimination, and harassment of LGBTQ students, as well as an increase in academic performance.

During LGBTQ Education Week, One Colorado will highlight the achievements of the safe schools movement, educate the public on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, and look ahead to what’s necessary to create educational justice for all Colorado students. For more information for students and their families, educators, administrators, and all those committed to ensuring every student attends a safe school, visit https://staging.onecolorado.flywheelsites.com/lgbtq-issues/safe-schools-colorado/

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