Post submitted by Judy Chiasson, Human Relations, Diversity and Equity, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Vinnie Pompei, director of HRCF's Youth Well-Being Project & Conference Chair
On October 11th, the Human Rights Campaign celebrates the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. All across the country, schools and colleges are organizing events that will help inspire and spread hope to those who are in the process of coming out.
Growing Up LGBT in America—the Human Rights Campaign’s groundbreaking research among more than 10,000 LGBT–identified youth illustrated that those who are out to their immediate family and those who are out at school are more likely to report being happy than those who are not out in those settings. The report also revealed that 31% of LGBT youth don’t come out at school because they feel they will be treated different or judged.
HRC’s Guide to Coming Out, and Guide to Being a Straight Ally were created to help individuals navigate the process. Coming out can be a scary process and being a straight ally is more than supporting equal rights.
Last month, the HRC Foundation announced Time to THRIVE, an annual national conference for K-12 educators and other youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field. This one-stop-shop conference will empower these professionals to become visible allies and change agents in their communities.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest school district, is modeling what it means to be a visible ally by creating safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students, staff and families. In fact, they have had LGBTQ-affirming policies since 1988. A district can have the most affirming policies, but how does it bridge the gap between policy, practice and belief? LAUSD strongly believes that education is the tool of equality for all.
This month, In honor of the 25th National Coming Out Day, LGBT History Month, Ally Week, and Bullying Prevention Month, LAUSD is launching an unprecedented campaign. The district has filmed over thirty PSAs representing a plethora of LGBTQ and ally voices belonging to the superintendent, the chief of school police, bus drivers, students, teachers, principals, parents, grandparents, and many more, giving heart felt messages of love and support for their LGBT, colleagues, students and families. These PSAs will be shown on local stations throughout the month of October, reaching a potential audience of 15 million viewers.
In addition, LAUSD partnered with the school bargaining units, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, and GSA Network to create and produce “OUT for Safe Schools” badges. Teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and custodial staff at 1,000 school and work sites will now wear visible symbols of their support for LGBTQ youth and families. We can imagine the sigh of relief and feeling of pride for that questioning seventh grader who hops on the school bus and sees the driver proudly wearing an “I’m OUT for Safe Schools” badge.
HRC applauds the pioneering work and leadership of the LAUSD and encourages others to introduce similar policies and initiatives in their school districts.
Throughout the week, HRC is pleased to bring you a series of blog posts and videos from HRC friends, supporters and staff sharing their coming out stories and discussing the still profound impact of coming out. Stay tuned to the HRC blog for more. And be sure to cast your vote for your favorite NCOD T-shirt design by Ryan McGinness.