Professional Learning Opportunity Now Available to Support School LGBT Inclusion Efforts

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The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) today announced a professional learning webinar entitled “Creating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusive Schools(link is external).” Created in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute (NYSDOH-AI), the webinar is posted on NYSED’s website for schools, school districts, parents, students, BOCES and the entire school community to support the goal of providing all students with a safe and inclusive learning environment.

“The Board of Regents and I believe that all children in New York’s schools should feel safe, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “We have a responsibility as educators to ensure that all students have the opportunity to feel welcome and included. Through this webinar’s powerful message, educators can learn more about creating an inclusive environment in their classrooms.”

“When our students feel safe and included, they are better positioned to succeed in school and ultimately in life,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “New York will continue to take steps to make sure that all students have the opportunity to attend school in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. This webinar is a significant resource in reaching that goal and I encourage school leaders to share it with all teachers and staff.”

“Schools that promote emotional health and wellness have a healthier, happier student body, better able to learn and achieve their full potential,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. “Under Governor Cuomo, New York State has consistently led the nation in adopting policies that advance inclusiveness and acceptance of all people.”

“Empire Justice Center is proud of the work we have done in partnership with the NYS Education Department to strengthen, clarify, and educate people about the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming students in New York’s schools,” said Eòghann Renfroe, Policy Coordinator for Empire Justice Center. “This webinar is another step in the right direction from NYSED and we look forward to continuing to work to ensure that trans and GNC students in New York’s schools have the same educational opportunities as their peers.”

"Creating spaces where all individuals feel safe, respected, and supported in their educational endeavors is one of the missions of our LGBTQ+ Academy,” said Jeffrey Myers, Executive Director of the Out Alliance. “The LGBT Inclusive Schools Webinar will help teachers, staff, and administrators feel better prepared and empowered to create more inclusive environments in schools across our state. We are proud to have been part of developing this important learning tool with the New York State Education Department, New York State Center for School Health, and other committed agencies."

Rowan Collins’, Education Coordinator for the Out Alliance, keynote address at the 2016 NYS Center for School Health Professional Education Seminar inspired this webinar when he told his story about coming out, and shared information on sexual and gender identity as well as responding and speaking respectfully around LGBT issues.

The information in the webinar will ultimately help and inspire our LGBT youth and provide the resources and support school staff to create inclusive school environments for all students.

NYSED worked closely with our New York State Center for School Health (NYSCSH), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and advocacy partners at the Empire Justice Center, among others to ensure the language and content of this webinar correctly captures the critical features of creating an LGBT inclusive school environment.  Some of the topics covered include: committing to a positive school climate and culture; speaking respectfully and making respectful choices; understanding gender identity and expression and sexual orientation; perceptions and bias attitudes and behaviors; implicit bias; Gay-Straight-Alliance Clubs (GSAs); and schools taking next supportive steps.

The Webinar complements existing resources available from NYSED’s Dignity for All Students Act webpage and includes information from the CDC, NYSDOH LGBT Health Bureau and advocacy organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network GLSEN and the Empire Justice Center.

New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus or at a school function.

The NYSED, NYSCSH, the NYSDOH-AI, and our advocacy partners are committed to supporting safe and supportive schools for all students. For additional resources and to view the “Creating LGBT Inclusive Schools” webinar visit NYS Center for School Health Professional Learning Page: Creating LGBT Inclusive Schools Webinar.(link is external)