Washington High School – School Health Programs
Q: At school, what have you done to create a safer climate for LGBTQ youth and their families?
In October, we held our annual event “Transgender Day of Remembrance” with the Beacon Center. We also featured a lunchtime speaker series promoting awareness of transgender issues. Jaime Rafael Wolf, a former school board candidate, shared her personal story and some important resources and support systems that are out there. It was a great event.
Q: What is a fun activity you’ve done for LGBTQ youth?
Our school nurse took some kids on a field trip to Dimensions clinic which focuses on LGBTQ youth in the Castro. The president of the GSA club came to our faculty meeting to educate our teachers about transgender identity. I thought it was very brave of her.
Q: What were some challenges/barriers you encountered?
Time and capacity are a huge deal. Academics and everyone’s work load including teachers and students are at an all-time high. LGBTQ issues are not in the curriculum as much as other “hot” topics such as academics including math and English. But it’s a daily reality of our students and so it’s important to infuse it.
Q: What inspired you to create safer spaces for LGBTQ youth?
It started in high school. I like to help youth and promote causes that are important to them. I do it for the youth—it’s a big motivator. They come in with so many good ideas. It keeps me young working with youth.
Q: What has been the school/community reaction for the work you’ve done?
It’s been positive because of the teachers. Let’s use Spirit Day as an example. The teachers really got into it. They made flyers stating why they thought Spirit Day was so important. Then they all wore purple. They understand that this is a process, it’s never like “okay we’ve finished that and now we’re done.” Creating a positive community is an ongoing process that we need to cultivate.