The Safe Schools Round Table of the Hudson Valley
The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center has partnered with GLSEN Hudson Valley to establish the Safe Schools Round Table of the Hudson Valley, a coalition of school leaders and educators, youth service professionals, parents and students from across the region, working to improve school safety and inclusion for LGBTQ and all students. The Round Table meets regularly in Ulster and Dutchess County. As New York’s new anti-bullying law, the Dignity for All Students Act, brings safe schools issues to the forefront of districts and communities, we look to expand our impact even further in the near future.
Training and Professional Development
In November 2011 the Center sponsored a regional educators’ conference, created in partnership with GLSEN Hudson Valley and Ulster BOCES, garnered attendance from 128 school professionals from across the Hudson Valley. Building on this momentum, the Center’s Dignity for All Students Initiative provides training, technical support and resources for Hudson Valley schools as they fulfill the requirements of the Dignity for All Students Act, New York’s landmark anti-bullying education law and the first New York state statute to be fully LGBTQ-inclusive. In an April 2012 region-wide survey of schools’ Dignity readiness, over three quarters of schools requested training for staff, technical assistance with policy making and speakers for student assemblies. It is our desire to bring these and other services to every requesting school district in the Hudson Valley, as we work to create safe, welcoming environments for all students.
Hudson Valley No Name-Calling Week
The Center co-sponsors Hudson Valley No Name-Calling Week, GLSEN’s sweeping annual anti-bullying campaign. More than 85 schools and community groups participated in 2012 by pledging to promote safety and respect in and out of the classroom, and the Center received a staggering 183 works of art by Hudson Valley students grades K-12 for inclusion in the annual NNCW Student Art Exhibit. Following a highly-attended opening at the Center, the exhibit traveled to key community locations across three counties as a powerful statement on the impact of bullying on youth. At the request of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, the Center again brought the perspective of LGBTQ youth to the Ulster County Anti-Bullying Webinar, broadcast live to schools in Ulster County and a host of community groups that serve youth. Proclamations declaring the last week of January 2012 as “No Name-Calling Week” were signed by the Ulster, Dutchess and Orange County Executives. Inspired by Hudson Valley No Name-Calling Week, Orange County leaders have brought the needs of LGBTQ youth to the forefront of county efforts. Orange County now boasts several new programs for LGBTQ youth and families.
The Working It Out Project for LGBTQ and Ally Youth
The Working It Out Project is a 10-14 week skills-building and leadership-development program offering support and guidance to high school age LGBTQ youth and allies. This program, which has been brought to several Hudson Valley schools with requests from several more, is a national model for building program for LGBTQ youth in rural communities, and was presented by Center staff at the 2012 Creating Change conference, the largest LGBTQ conference in the nation. The direct impact of the Working It Out project on students has been remarkable. These comments from student participants demonstrate that impact:
“I’ve felt safe in this group — like I have a voice, and people listen to me.”
“Working It Out helped me to deal with bullies.”
“This group helped me see how others feel, and makes me want to help.”
“I plan to stand up for myself, and I know who I am.”
Information, Resources and Advocacy
The Center is a crucial resource to teens, families and school staff who need advice and support. We have helped area schools change policies to comply with the Dignity For All Students Act, handle incidents of bullying and harassment, and become open and welcoming toward transgender youth. We have intervened on behalf of young people who have been bullied because they are, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or allies.
The Center now serves on the Ulster County Youth Bureau Advisory Board – a vital step in assuring that the needs of LGBTQ youth and their families are understood and addressed.
Our Cultural Competence Training program has reached over 2,800 Hudson Valley health and human service providers in the past 3 years—including educators, school administrators and youth workers from fields including social services, medicine and juvenile justice—giving them the tools they need to create affirming services and safe, welcoming spaces for all the youth they serve. Our Dignity Trainings for district and school staff are making a valuable impact on the education, wellness, safety of both LGBTQ and ally-identifying students across the Hudson Valley.
We’re proud of our work to build safety and support for LGBTQ and ally-identified youth across the Hudson Valley, and we’re grateful to you for supporting that work!
If you’re a teacher, school administrator or youth service worker, and would like to know more about the Center’s programs, reach out to us. We can provide you with training, technical assistance, referrals, support and much more.