Q. What are you doing to create a safer school community for LGBTQ students?
Well, one of the things we do is conflict management and mediation. That’s involved with school safety, we also do a lot of peer education, and what tends to be popular with peer resource students, are issues around sexuality and relationships as well as violence prevention. When it comes from the student community those tend to be popular topics that they develop into peer education programs. At MLK we are doing a lot of peer tutoring, were going to be doing something on tobacco and health awareness education. We don’t have anything currently planned around LGBT, but we do have an LGBT coordinator, Judy Gerber.
Q. How has the school climate changed since the beginning of your LGBTQ work?
I actually don’t think it has. The GSA coordinator Judy has done a lot of consciousness raising last year around language and terminology, and a lot of different name calling and not necessarily name calling directly at gay and lesbian people but just using terms that are slurs toward the LGBT communities and in my personal opinion it didn’t have a big impact on the consciousness of the kids. What’s good about this interview is you have me thinking, because one of the issues that we deal with in peer resource is creating a safe place and respectful environment. Maybe I need to bring this idea back to my students and ask them to mull it over.
Q. What would you like to do better this year?
I would like to see the kids become aware of the impact language has, the choices that they make and how they respond to people. Help them develop effective and sensitive communication skills You know, like using “I” messages as opposed to just name calling and being conscious of how slurs are used as a form of verbal bullying.