WNYC – New York Funds New Anti-Bullying Measures After Fatal School Stabbing

New York City is expanding anti-bullying programs, following a fatal stabbing and reports of bullying at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx.

By Mara Silvers and Yasmeen Khan

Originally published by WNYC on October 30, 2017

New York City education officials said on Monday they would commit $8 million system-wide to expand anti-bullying measures and create new programs, including devising an online complaint portal for families and providing targeted support for 300 schools with high rates of bullying.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the initiatives at a City Council oversight hearing on bullying, harassment and discrimination in the public schools. The issue of safety and bullying, specifically, came under scrutiny since a student was fatally stabbed in a classroom at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation last month.

“Today’s hearing was prompted in part by the tragic incident,” said City Council Member Daniel Dromm, “in which one student lost his life, another was seriously injured, and a third had his life forever altered.”

Dromm chairs the Committee on Education, and called specifically for better anti-bullying programs that protects LGBTQ students.

“Anti-bullying education is worth nothing unless the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer words are used at every grade level,” Dromm said in his opening remarks. “Not to do so actually contributes to the problem by sending the message that being LGBTQ is so bad that it can only be discussed at certain times.”

The City Council voted to advance legislation that would require the Department of Education to provide additional support for LGBTQ students, as well as release data about bullying and which schools maintain Gender and Sexuality Alliances.

Other new programs announced by the department Monday included more anti-bias and anti-bullying training for all school-based staff; workshops in mental health support for students, school staff and parents alike; and a new protocol that requires schools to create an action plan for a student who is accused repeatedly of bullying (and when those claims are substantiated).

“We also recognize that all members of a school community have vital roles to play in preventing bullying,” said Fariña. “We are seeking greater input from parents, and building robust accountability systems.”

Starting in 2019, families will be able to file complaints about student bullying or discrimination through an online portal, officials said. The tool will also help the city track which schools need additional help.

The chancellor came under an intense line of questioning in regard to the specific high school where the stabbing occurred last month. Council Members Rafael Salamanca and Ritchie Torres said they spoke to the former principal of the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation after the attack, who alleged that the department did not provide the school with help in the months proceeding the stabbing.

“She said that she made various requests to increase the amount of school safety agents and she also made a request for scanning, and that request was denied,” said Salamanca.

“That principal did get an additional school safety agent,” countered Fariña. “She got them last spring.”

Superintendent Fred Walsh announced Friday that Astrid Jacobo would no longer be principal of the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation, citing the need for a “new leader to stabilize the school.”

Council Member Torres pressed Fariña to say that the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation was facing a “systemic problem” of bullying.

“There is obviously a problem, we’re going to get to the bottom of it. But systemic is a very big word and I think right now until the investigation is complete, I really want to reserve judgment on it,” said Fariña.

Torres countered that a 2016-17 schools survey, 92 percent of the teachers at the Urban Assembly School For Wildlife Conservation said that students were bullied, intimidated and harassed either “most of the time or some of the time.”

“And so even though the D.O.E. cannot acknowledge that there might be a systemic problem, your own teachers claim otherwise,” Torres said.

The family of 15-year-old Matthew McCree, who was fatally stabbed by 18-year-old Abel Cedeno, has said they will sue the city for his death. Cedeno’s lawyers and family have said he was bullied. McCree’s mother has said her son never bullied anyone.

The Department of Education said it is conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.

In addition to the anti-bullying measures, department officials released suspension data from the 2016-17 school year. The report shows total number of suspensions declined 6.4 percent, compared to previous school year. There were also fewer school arrests and summonses issued by school safety agents.

Read more here.

Denuncian aumento de robo de salarios por subcontratistas

A pesar de las leyes aprobadas en el estado se siguen cometiendo estafas contra trabajadores informales

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Trabajadores Luis Gil, Mauricio Jimenez, Jose Francisco Lopez con Modesta Toribio. Robo de Salario. (Photo: El Diario)

Por Edwin Martinez

Publicado en El Diario el 17 de octubre 2017

“La otra semana le pago”. “Deje de molestar tanto”. “Qué quiere que haga si a mí no me han pagado”. “A mí no me importa que usted no tenga pa’ comer”. “Si me sigue llamando le echo a ‘La Migra’”. Esas son algunas de las frases que diariamente cientos de trabajadores informales escuchan por parte de subcontratistas que se “aparecen como ángeles” en momentos de vacas flacas, y luego de ponerlos a trabajar con salarios de solo $80 por el día entero, principalmente en labores de demolición, pintura, construcción y limpieza, se niegan a pagar y terminan borrándose del mapa.

Eso le pasó al ecuatoriano Mauricio Jiménez, quien en el 2014, tras la angustia de llevar tres semanas sin trabajo, fue contratado por un paisano suyo en obras de construcción, y no solo le “robaron” su pago sino que terminó siendo el malo de la película.

“El tipo empezó pagando bien, pero luego ya me daba poco, no me daba la semana completa, solo partes, y al final ya no me volvió a pagar y me quitó dos semanas. Lo llamaba y lo llamaba y lo buscaba en su casa, pero se molestó conmigo, se puso tenso y nunca me pagó”, comentó el inmigrante, quien decidió demandarlo, y aunque ganó el caso en la corte tras dos años de batalla, finalmente el dinero se perdió.

Se desapareció y nadie sabe nada de él. Seguramente sigue haciendo esto como un negocio, sigue contratando más trabajadores, los roba y desaparece, pues ese es el modus operandi de muchos subcontratistas que lucran a cuenta de los trabajadores y cambian de celular, de nombres de compañías o de lugares de trabajo”, agrega el inmigrante, quien en enero del año pasado volvió a caer en las garras de otro empleador deshonesto.

Me volvió a pasar con otro paisano ecuatoriano. Me quedó debiendo un mes, pero ahí, gracias a la ayuda de esta organización se llegó a un acuerdo y me pagó los $2,500 que me debía, porque los abogados lo llamaron y seguramente a él le dio miedo que se corriera la voz o que se metiera en problemas”, agregó Jiménez, al tiempo que contó sobre otras tácticas sucias que suelen aplicar.

“Muchos pagan cada quince días y se inventan una semana de ‘security’ que no se sabe por qué es, y siempre va a quedar ese dinero faltante porque esa semana se queda en el aire y al final, si son honestos, pagan el resto pero esa no la pagan”, dijo el trabajador, advirtiendo a quienes tienen historias similares que denuncien y luchen por sus pagos.

“Eso que hacen ellos es un asalto en el que uno sabe quién es la persona y cuanto le robo, y sabiendo esos datos uno puede denunciar y la justicia tarde o temprano llega y se les frena el negocio sucio que están montando”, dijo el ecuatoriano.

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Mauricio Jimenez. Robo de Salario. (Photo: El Diario)

El salvadoreño José Francisco López, padre de cinco hijos, también cayó en las redes de los empleadores avivatos, y le fue peor, porque hasta su vida estuvo en juego.

“Yo quería cobrar mi sueldo y me decían que ya me habían pagado, me enredaban y pasaron semanas que no me pagaron, pero eso no fue lo peor sino que una vez el patrón hasta me tiró una máquina encima para matarme porque recibí una llamada”, comentó el inmigrante, quien quedó deshabilitado y ahora depende de su hijo de 17 años, quien sostiene a la familia, trabajando en un lavadero de carros y en una pizzería. “Mi jefe me terminó robando como unas cinco semanas, no me dio compensación por un accidente que tuve y aunque llevo año y medio con el caso en la corte, aún no me han podido recuperar nada, pero sigo en la lucha porque eso va a salir bien”, agregó el trabajador, quien siente rabia de que los empleadores “jueguen con el hambre” de familias enteras.

Estafas en aumento

Los casos de Jiménez y López son solo una pequeña muestra de una realidad que cada vez es más común. Modesta Toribio, defensora de los derechos de los trabajadores de la organización Make the Road Nueva York, aseguró que las estafas de subcontratistas han ido en aumento, pero advirtió que con datos básicos se pueden recuperar los salarios. Esta organización recibe en sus oficinas un promedio de 300 denuncias al año.

“Esta práctica se ha vuelto muy común, especialmente en el área de la Roosevelt, en Queens, donde yo recibo semanalmente entre 5 y 7 casos de robo de salarios de inmigrantes a los llevan a trabajar duro y luego no les contestan el teléfono y no les pagan, pero es importante que ellos sepan que tienen derechos y que podemos ayudarlos a que les den su dinero”, aseguró la activista, al tiempo que agregó que el 80% de los casos que manejan tienen un final feliz para el trabajador.

Muchos trabajadores no tienen idea que pueden recuperar el dinero y dejan a los contratistas que se roben su plata, pero si no se hace nada contra ellos, no solo van a perder su derecho de obtener su salario sino que van a seguir haciéndole eso a otras personas”, comentó la dominicana, quien pidió que los trabajadores siempre tengan información precisa del contratista como la dirección donde vive, nombre completo, teléfono, placa del carro que usa y hasta fotos del empleado en el sitio de trabajo.

La activista afirmó además que en esta lucha para que se respete la dignidad de los trabajadores sería muy útil si hubiera leyes más fuertes que persigan más a los subcontratistas aprovechados, por lo que  mencionó que al Departamento de Labor del Estadole hace falta un seguimiento más feroz de los “mala paga” y más prontitud en el manejo de los casos.

El Estado debe hacer más

Daniel Dromm, concejal del distrito de Jackson Heights y miembro del Comité de Labor del Concejo Municipal, destacó que los asuntos laborales en Nueva York están delineados por el Estado y advirtió que aunque en 2011 se aprobó el Acta de Protección Salarial que protege a los trabajadores, necesita fortalecerse más a través de la organización y la educación.

“La ley está ahí, pero seguimos escuchando gente que trabaja y no le pagan, por lo que es importante seguir el trabajo que estamos haciendo desde el Concejo con fondos para advertirle a todos los neoyorquinos, tengan papeles o no, que las leyes los cubren y que todos los trabajadores tienen sus derechos y pueden reclamar si son víctimas de jefes que no les pagan”, advirtió el líder político de Queens, quien pidió que se incrementen los castigos a los subcontratistas “ladrones”.

Ellos son criminales y están haciendo algo terrible, por lo que es necesario verlos como delincuentes y darles mayores castigos incluso enviarlos a la cárcel, porque no podemos permitir que victimicen a personas vulnerables que están cayendo en sus manos”, agregó Dromm.

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Se Hace Camino coordinadora Modesta Toribio. Robo de Salario. (Photo: El Diario)

Rafael Espinal, presidente del Comité de Asuntos del Consumidor, lamentó especialmente que muchos subcontratistas pretendan legitimar el robo de salarios amenazando a los trabajadores con ‘La Migra’, y advirtió que ordenará una investigación más exhaustiva sobre esta problemática para ponerle freno a los empleadores abusivos.

“Los trabajadores deben recibir un pago por el trabajo que realizan y nunca ser intimidados por los empleadores que desean explotar su estado migratorio”, dijo el concejal de Brooklyn, donde se reportar muchos de estos robos de salarios. “Como presidente de la Comisión de Asuntos del Consumidor del Concejo, haré que el personal investigue y estudie estos abusos para asegurarnos de que estamos haciendo todo lo posible para lograr que los neoyorquinos reciban salarios que se han ganado con trabajo duro y que han sido robados por propietarios de negocios turbios”.

Cristóbal Gutiérrez, defensor laboral de Make the Road NY advirtió que los trabajadores que han sido víctima de lo que describió como un negocio endémico no deben permitir que violen sus derechos.

“La ley dice que cualquier día trabajado en este país, independientemente del estatus migratorio, debe ser pagado conforme a la ley del estado en el que se está trabajando, al menos el ingreso mínimo correspondiente”, dijo el chileno mencionando que organismos como el Departamento de Labor, las fiscalías y hasta las cortes de pequeños reclamos están prestas a ayudar. “Aunque cada caso es diferente hay que pedir ayuda, pero lo ideal es que si hay varias personas a las que les está pasando lo mismo se unan y van a ser más exitoso”.

Es un delito

El Departamento de Trabajo de Nueva York, que tiene una unidad de ayuda de salarios no pagados, advierte que los empleadores que no cumplen con sus obligaciones salariales están cometiendo un delito, considerado menor y hace un llamado a que las víctimas presenten sus reclamos.

“El Departamento de Trabajo ayuda a cobrar los salarios adeudados a los trabajadores que no han recibido el salario mínimo, una vez que nos presentan un reclamo. Las normas laborales investigan y se esfuerzan por recopilar estos reclamos para salarios pendientes de pago, salarios retenidos, deducciones ilegales y también hacemos cumplir las reglas que prohíben a los empleadores tomar sobornos ilegales de los salarios”, advierte ese organismo.

La Fiscalía General del Estado también ha lanzado una dura batalla para recuperar los salarios robados de los trabajadores y aseguran que en el último año lograron pagos pendientes de más de $2.7 millones que beneficiaron a más de 1,500 empleados en casos civiles y penales. Desde el 2011 el monto supera los $30 millones.

“Como Fiscal General, estoy comprometido a luchar en nombre de los trabajadores de Nueva York para asegurar que obtienen un pago justo por cada jornada de trabajo”, aseguró Eric Schneiderman. “Seguiremos luchando todos los días en favor de las familias trabajadoras de Nueva York”.

Dónde pedir ayuda

  • Si usted tiene una queja acerca de su empleador, no dude en llamar al 311 y solicitar la Oficina de Normas Laborales del Departamento de Asuntos del Consumidor
  • El Departamento de Labor del Estado ofrece ayuda en la línea 888-469-7365 o a través de la página https://www.labor.ny.gov/home/
  • Asimismo puede llamar a la línea del distrito de Nueva York al 212-775-3880
  • La organización Make the Road NY tienen una oficina especializada en ayuda a recuperar salarios. Para ayuda llame al 1877 466 97 57 o visite sus sedes en el 301 Grove St, en Brooklyn, 161 Port Richmond Ave, en Staten Island o 92-10 Roosevelt Ave, en Corona, Queens
  • En Make the Road de Queens puede llamar al 718 565 85 00 ext 4472 a Modesta Toribio
  • En la oficina de Make the Road en Brooklyn puede llamar al 718 418 76 90 a Nieves Padilla.

Leer más aquí.

TRUMP, RACISM CONTROVERSIES ON THE SYLLABUS AT ON EDUCATION EVENT

By Grace Segers and Jeff Coltin
Originally published by City and State New York on August 16, 2017

(Photo by Alexis Arsenault)

(Photo by Alexis Arsenault)

With President Donald Trump again drawing a moral equivalency between the white nationalist marchers and their counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, racism and diversity have become a central topic of discussion at many events – including at City & State’s forum on New York education policy.

“I think that what’s happening in Washington is something we need to talk about in our classrooms,” New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm said during a panel discussion at the annual On Education event, held Wednesday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. Dromm said that controversies surrounding the Trump administration are raising issues about culture and history that students need to understand.

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman agreed, adding that the Trump administration has “instilled an institution of fear in our public schools.”

“I think that kind of climate sets a bad tone, not just in New York state, but across the country,” added Hyndman, who previously worked for the state Department of Education and served on New York City’s Community District Education Council 29.

The president’s remarks and his administration’s education policies was a recurring theme during the conference. During a discussion of a federal push to promote private schools, Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of New York, said that many professionals in private schools were skeptical of the president’s campaign promises to dedicate $20 billion of federal funding to school choice.

The events in Charlottesville, in which brawls broke out and a counterprotester was struck by a car and killed, and the president’s response remained at the forefront of many discussions, even ones related specifically to New York. State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal from June, which outlined ways to increase diversity in New York City schools but failed to mention the word “segregation” or directly address integration.

“Call it out. You’ve got to name it,” said Rosa. She added that the events of the past six days had underscored the importance of school integration, alluding to Charlottesville.

The New York education sector has had its own controversy over race in the past week: Daniel Loeb, a political donor and chairman of the board of directors of Success Academy, the state’s largest charter school network, said in a since-deleted Facebook post that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is black, was worse for racial minorities than “anyone who has ever donned a hood,” because of her support of teachers’ unions. A separate 2016 Facebook post from Loeb was also uncovered this week saying the teachers’ union “has done more to perpetuate poverty and discrimination than the KKK.”

Loeb’s comments have been roundly criticized, including during a Monday rally in Harlem where politicians showed support for Stewart-Cousins. Loeb has apologized for the comments, but many, including de Blasio, called for him to step down from the Success Academy board.

Rosa joined the chorus today, saying she was “outraged on every single level” that Loeb would compare an African American woman to the KKK, adding that Success Academy students would be better served by having somebody else as chairman of the board.

There were other signs of tension involving charter schools. Last month, the State University of New York introduced a proposal that would let some charter schools hire uncertified teachers and instead develop their own in-house certification that was less arduous. One proposal would require only 30 hours of classroom instruction.

“I could go into a fast food restaurant and get more training than that,” said state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. Rosa called the proposal “insulting.”

Janella Hinds, vice president for academic high schools at the United Federation of Teachers, connected the proposal to the Trump administration, saying it was “an indicator of  what’s happening nationally around the deprofessionalization of education and this privatization moment that doesn’t really serve students or their families.”

Read more here.

Queens Exhibit Celebrates 25 Years of Borough’s Pride Roots

By Roger Clark
Originally published by New York 1 on Friday, June 9, 2017

Queens’ role in LGBT history is the focus of a new exhibit at the Queens Museum.

“The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens” looks at LGBT activism in the borough dating back to the early 90s.

Many pieces in the exhibit come from the personal archives of City Councilman Danny Dromm, who founded the Queens Pride Parade.

“It’s going to be across the board, the history of the last 25 years of the history of the LGBT movement in Queens. Which a lot of people don’t know about. There’s been activism here, and our own unique history here in the borough of Queens,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm.

The exhibit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Queens Pride Parade, which was celebrated in Jackson Heights last Sunday.

To see more, click here.

Residents File Class Action Suit Against MTA Over Lead Paint on 7 Train

By Matt McClure
Reported by NY1 on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 11.06.10 PMA group of Jackson Heights residents has filed a class action lawsuit against the MTA. They say lead paint chips falling from the elevated 7 train line pose a public health hazard. NY1’s Matt McClure filed the following report.

Standing under the elevated 7 train along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights you can’t help but notice it: Paint chipping and falling away.

“I have two small kids,” said Dudley Stewart, a Jackson Heights resident and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “

Every day we walk through Roosevelt Avenue and I get worried because you see the dust falling from the train. We know it’s filled with lead aint.”

A recent study by a painter’s union found lead levels in paint chips here were more than 40 times the legal threshold.

Now, four Jackson Heights residents have joined together in a federal class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), calling on the agency to fix the problem.

“This is something the MTA has known about for years,” Steward said. “We want them to fix it. They refuse to fix it. Now is the time to force them to do it.”

“When all other avenues have failed, we believe that this lawsuit will then force the MTA to cure this hazard, which has existed for too long,” said attorney Dan Woodard, who represents the plaintiffs.

Among other things, the lawsuit accuses the agency of intentionally causing dangerous conditions by painting the structure with lead paint, then not maintaining it. City Council Member Daniel Dromm says it’s a public health hazard. He also believes it’s been 35 years since the structure between Woodside and Corona has received a fresh coat of paint.

“They keep telling us it’s in the budget,” Dromm said. “We’ve not seen it painted.”

Tammy Rose, an area resident involved in the lawsuit says the structural conditions of the elevated 7 line are so bad, one day as she was driving down Roosevelt Avenue, a bolt fell and hit her car.

“If a bolt falls off, imagine the amount of paint chips that are falling that we don’t see,” Rose said.

“You can see the structure is in very bad shape,” Dromm added. “I’m surprised it hasn’t fallen down!”

The MTA does not comment on pending litigation, but a spokesperson says their previous tests showed lead levels within EPA standards. The spokesperson also denies that it has been 35 years since the bridge has been painted, although they didn’t say when it happened. There is money in the agency’s current Capital Plan for the painting, but there’s no word on when it might happen.

For the residents who filed this lawsuit, it can’t come soon enough.

See more here.

Attack in Jackson Heights Leaves Two Transgender Women Living in Fear

By David Gonzalez

Originally published by the New York Times on April 2, 2017

Gabriela, left, with Nayra, who suffered a fractured ankle in an attack that the police called a hate crime. “I don’t want to see anybody,” Nayra said. “If I do, I freeze. If I go outside to smoke and I hear a man’s voice, I panic.” Credit David Gonzalez/The New York Times

Gabriela, left, with Nayra, who suffered a fractured ankle in an attack that the police called a hate crime. “I don’t want to see anybody,” Nayra said. “If I do, I freeze. If I go outside to smoke and I hear a man’s voice, I panic.” Credit David Gonzalez/The New York Times

Nayra and Gabriela don’t go out much these days, and not just because the two roommates are homebodies. When they venture outside their apartment in Queens, their hesitation is caused as much by emotional wounds as by physical injuries. The two friends are trans women, and though their Jackson Heights neighborhood has a reputation as a welcoming community for gays and lesbians, hate crimes against transgender women have alarmed many in the area.

On the afternoon of March 17, the two women were entering a McDonald’s restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue when they heard a man screaming behind them. When they turned around, they said, he began hurling insults.

“He called us prostitutes, faggots, bitches,” said Gabriela, 33, who, like her friend, spoke on the condition that her last name not be published because of the nature of the assault as well as lingering fear. “I looked at him and said, ‘Girl, this man is crazy.’ He wanted to hurt us.”

Within seconds, the encounter escalated from insults to injuries. The man rushed them, knocking them to the ground as he pummeled Nayra, whose ankle was fractured in the fall. Gabriella said that she had pounced on him but that he had gotten up, grabbed a broken umbrella and used it to beat her on her face and hands.

When he tried to escape, Gabriella chased him, grabbing at the waistband of his pants and slowing him down until the police arrived and took him into custody. No bystanders intervened during the attack, they said.

Now, what has been called a hate crime by the police has turned a neighborhood they love into one they fear.

“I can’t go out and see too many people,” Nayra, 31, said. “If I have appointments, I’ll take a taxi and come back home. I don’t want to see anybody. If I do, I freeze. If I go outside to smoke and I hear a man’s voice, I panic.”

Patrick Omeara, 38, of Oakdale, N.Y., was arrested and faces various charges, including assault as a hate crime. He could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Howard Turman, did not respond to several voice messages requesting comment. The case is in the pretrial stage, and the next court date is scheduled for Tuesday.

Jackson Heights has come a long way since skinheads lured Julio Rivera, a gay man, into a schoolyard and killed him. That 1990 attack galvanized activists and residents, and led to the establishment of the borough’s gay pride parade and a political club that has promoted laws and policies helping gay, lesbian and transgender people. Yet the attacks on trans women — three this year and 16 in 2016, according to local advocates — are an unsettling reminder of the work still to be done.

“People have this idea that New York City is free of violence and progressive,” said Shelby Chestnut, director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project. “But violence is still occurring against many marginalized communities, and the trans community is deeply affected by that.

“We need to push the public to pay attention to trans issues and see it as a civil rights issue,” she continued. “We are in this moment in society where violence and hatred is emerging in a number of communities, and it exists in New York.”

Nationally, Ms. Chestnut said, transgender women are being killed in greater numbers than any other segment of the L.G.B.T. community. This year alone, she said, there have been seven such murders: Six victims were African-American, and one was Native American.

Advocates said these instances of violence were not isolated but the result of a combination of factors that leave African-American and Latina trans women vulnerable. Harassed in public, rejected by their families and uneasy in school or homeless shelters for men, they are left to fend for themselves and are at a higher risk of becoming victims of violence, advocates said. And the political debate over unauthorized immigrants has left many fearful of speaking out.

“The biggest challenge in working with transgender people is they often don’t have the self-esteem to think they are worth seeking support or help for themselves,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights.

“There is also distrust in going to the authorities, especially the police,” he said. “In the past they have gone there and faced harassment, even at night when they were coming home from the bars. That distrust causes hesitation.”

Nayra and Gabriela encountered some of this after the attack. Although the police who responded were helpful, they said, the detectives who followed up with them at the hospital made them uncomfortable by asking the same questions repeatedly, as if they did not believe them. Nor did the detectives speak Spanish, even though the women, who are Puerto Rican, have limited English proficiency.

Since that encounter in the hospital, the women said, they have yet to hear back from the police.

“We need more laws to ensure the security of trans women,” said Bianey Garcia, a transgender organizer with Make the Road New York. “We don’t need more police. We want the police who are already there to pay more attention to these cases.”

Until then, Gabriela and Nayra are paying extra attention.

“We never had anything happen to us before,” Gabriela said. “Now I walk with fear, like any woman. But now I pay more attention to what I hear around me. I notice more. I look at every little thing. If a couple of people pass by too close to me on the street, I keep walking, wait a little and then look back at them quickly to see if anyone is following me.”

Read more here.

Wall Street Journal: Use of Pepper Spray in Rikers Island Classrooms Sparks Concerns

City council members raise objections, but correction officials say spray is needed to break up fights involving young inmates

 

Councilman Daniel Dromm, wearing tie, at a City Hall meeting in 2014. He has expressed concern about the use of pepper spray in classrooms for young inmates at Rikers Island. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Councilman Daniel Dromm, wearing tie, at a City Hall meeting in 2014. He has expressed concern about the use of pepper spray in classrooms for young inmates at Rikers Island. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

 

Data disaggregation bills passed in New York City: A Big Win for LGBTQ people and Communities of Color

By Kevin Nadal, PhD

Originally posted by the Huffington Post on November 4, 2016

CACF: COALITION FOR ASIAN CHILDREN AND FAMILIES Mayor de Blasio signing the Data Equity Bills on October 31, 2016.

CACF: COALITION FOR ASIAN CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Mayor de Blasio signing the Data Equity Bills on October 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you belong to different non-majority populations, it can be easy to feel like you are different or alone. You don’t see yourself represented on television shows or movies; you don’t see retail stores celebrating your holidays. You open up history books to learn about groups besides your own, and you sometimes have to travel miles or hours to find food that even remotely matches your grandmother’s cooking skills.

As a Filipino American, born to immigrant parents, I spent my childhood years feeling like my cultural heritage was invisible or odd. I watched TV shows like Punky Brewster and Diff’rent Strokes– never expecting to see any Asian Americans. I learned that the country operated on a Black and White paradigm and that I should just be happy that my parents were able to provide us with opportunities. The few times I saw Filipino Americans on shows like MTV’s The Real World or movies like Hook, I felt validated that ethnic group existed.

At the same time, as I started to identify as gay and as a queer person of color, I genuinely presumed I was the only one. There weren’t any out LGBTQ people in my family, and the few LGBTQ people I saw in media were mostly portrayed in negatively stereotypic ways. Without any role models or friends to overtly tell me it was okay to be gay, I stayed in the closet for the first two and a half decades of my life. Perhaps if I knew that millions of other teenagers were struggling in a similar way, I might have bypassed the depression, the suicidal thoughts, and the pleas to God to make me “normal.”

It is because of these experiences that I wanted to study the communities that were so important of me, and why I pursued my PhD in psychology. As a doctoral student, I faced many research challenges that my peers didn’t encounter. For example, if my peers were interested in studies that understanding differences between major racial groups on certain variables (e.g., Black versus White health outcomes), they could access public datasets with large sample sizes to statistically analyze and compare groups. However, if I wanted to study health differences between Asian American ethnic groups (e.g., Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese or Korean Americans), I would have to collect my own data because those same public datasets usually would not provide information on diverse ethnicities. Relatedly, if a colleague wanted to examine gender differences related to school children or hospital patients (e.g., academic achievement, access to care), they could request access to institutional records to answer their research questions. Yet, if I wanted to replicate a similar study with LGBTQ students or LGBTQ hospital patients, I could not, because the data on sexual orientation or gender identity would never have been collected. Finally, if I ambitiously wanted to report how many Filipino American LGBTQ people there were in the country, I would have to give up entirely, because there simply was no data on the intersection of the two.

On October 31st, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City signed three pieces of legislation – Intros. 251-A, 551-A, and 552-A. The bills which were sponsored by Council Member Daniel Dromm and Council Member Margaret Chin (and which passed a nearly unanimous City Council Vote), require that New York City agencies use a new form to collect information on gender identity, sexuality, language spoken, ancestry, ethnic origin, and multiracial identity. The form would be voluntary in that the individual could choose to skip any question and would not need to disclose anything identity they did not feel comfortable. The form would be anonymous, in that no one person could be identified based on their answers.

These new policies in New York City are important for a few reasons. First, as New York City is now one of three jurisdictions in the US to pass a data equity law, there is a potential for more advocacy for data equity on all federal, state, and city agencies. For communities of color and immigrants, the impact would be groundbreaking, as it would encourage service providers and policymakers to understand the nuances between groups that are usually lumped into umbrella categories. For example, comprehensive data on Asian Americans could unveil the ways that Asian American ethnic groups differ on issues like poverty, education, and violence. With such information, we would know what kinds of services need to be provided to different groups and what major languages need to be spoken with people to access those services.

Second, because the U.S. Census Bureau does not collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity, we do not know how many LGBTQ people there are in New York City, let alone in the entire US. While the Williams Institute at UCLA does their best in estimating the LGBTQ population, we need more definitive numbers. In order to best serve our communities (and to advocate for more funding for research and services), we need to know the numbers of LGBTQ homeless people, LGBTQ incarcerated offenders, LGBTQ-identified students in high schools and colleges; LGBTQ suicide or hate crime victims; and more.

Third, we could also examine trends among multiracial people. Though the U.S. Census Bureau gathers data on multiracial or multiethnic identity, other government agencies tend not to collect, analyze, or disaggregate data on multiracial people. Data equity bills like these advocate for multiracial people to no longer be forced to check a box or settle for an “other”. Similarly, Middle Eastern or Arab Americans (who are often classified as “White” or “Other”) will also be able to self-identify, which could lead to greater understanding and visibility of these communities.

Fourth, having this data is important because it helps our country to celebrate its diversity- a concept that is particularly salient amidst our upcoming elections. While some political candidates have demonstrated commitment to combatting racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia, some candidates have not. Perhaps disaggregated data can influence these political candidates and strategists to recognize population sizes and voting trends of various groups. If politicians knew how much power LGBTQ people, immigrants, and communities of color have in determining elections, perhaps candidates would advocate for the issues that matter to these groups.

But perhaps most importantly, disaggregated data can help these communities to learn how many of them actually exist, which can help them to empower themselves. If LGBTQ people were provided with evidence that they were numerically larger than, or equal to, oppositional religious groups or political parties, maybe they would activate as a collective front. If Asian American ethnic groups knew how many of their community members were affected by particular health, educational, or mental health issues, maybe they could collectively strategize on ways to solve these disparities.  And if communities that historically feel marginalized formed coalitions (like the LGBTQ, immigrant, Asian American, Latinx American, Arab American, and Multiracial people of New York City did), perhaps they would recognize that they have even more of a voice.

I know I can’t change my past, but maybe one way I can positively impact the lives of young people is through my research. In the future, when I learn about a young person who feels like they are “the only one” because their sexual orientation, gender identity, or ethnicity, I can confidently turn to the data and provide them with empirical evidence to show them that they are not alone.

Author’s Note: Thank you to Noilyn Abesamis-Mendoza, MPH of Coalition for Asian Children and Families for her assistance on this article.

Read more here.

Analizan ley para proteger del bullying a estudiantes vulnerables y LGBT

Aunque las autoridades educativas defienden su desempeño, el Concejo asegura que cientos de jóvenes siguen siendo víctima de acoso e intimidación por su orientación sexual, raza o aparienca

 

By Edwin Martinez

Originally published by El Diario NY on October 23, 2016

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José López tiene 16 años y desde que entró a la escuela secundaria, las burlas y comentarios ofensivos de algunos de sus compañeros se han convertido en pan de cada día.

“Me dicen todo el tiempo cosas feas porque soy afeminado, y como estoy un poco gordo, pues me va peor”, comenta el colombiano, quien estudia en una escuela de Queens, y quien por temor a sufrir más rechazo, prefiere ya no quejarse con sus maestros. “Me toca ser fuerte y tratar de ignorar las burlas, pero hay compañeros míos que hasta han pensado en suicidarse. A mí me han empujado, dicho ‘marrana’, ‘miss arepa’, ‘chupa pitos’ y cosas obscenas que para ellos son simples chistes, pero que acaban con cualquiera”.

Y es que a pesar de que el Departamento de Educación de Nueva York asegura que ha implementado varios programas y campañas contra el bullying en los centros educativos, el Concejo de la Ciudad considera que hay fallas gravísimas que ponen en riesgo el bienestar, la salud mental, el desempeño académico y hasta la propia vida de jóvenes LGBT y otros estudiantes vulnerables.

Por ello el Comité de Educación del Concejo comenzó esta semana el análisis de una iniciativa de ley de supervisión contra la intimidación, el acoso y la discriminación en las escuelas, que pretende lograr mayor efectividad a la hora de proteger a los niños más vulnerables.

“El bullying sigue siendo un problema serio cada día en todas las comunidades, empezando en preescolar y poniéndose peor cuando los niños van creciendo”, aseguró el presidente del comité, el concejal Daniel Dromm, al tiempo que mencionó que además de las quejas serias de acoso a niños musulmanes, discapacitados y por cuestiones de raza, la orientación sexual es otro de los elementos que hace más vulnerables a los estudiantes.

“Los estudiantes LGBT son víctimas abrumadoramente de bullying y acoso, y según un sondeo del grupo (GLSEN) sobre el ambiente escolar en el 2013, más del 74% de los estudiantes LGBT fueron acosados verbalmente y el 36% físicamente”, dijo. “Tristemente los malos tratos se extienden a las políticas de las escuelas y sus prácticas”.

El líder político dejó ver su preocupación por el riesgo que enfrentan los menores y mencionó que a pesar de que hay varias medidas antibullying en efecto en la Gran Manzana, el Departamento de Educación ha fallado en cumplirlas.

Casos reportados

“Entre el 2012 y el 2013, el 80% de las escuelas reportó cero casos de bullying. Un análisis de la Fiscalía del estado sobre los datos del 2013 y el 2014 encontró que el 70% de las escuelas reportó cero incidentes”, comentó Dromm, explicando que en el más reciente reporte el 94% de las escuelas reportaron 10 incidentes de bullying o menos. “Aunque ha habido un ligero incremento en el reporte de incidentes en los últimos tres años, el nivel de casos no reportados sigue siendo inaceptable”.

Elizabeth Rose, vicecanciller de la división de operaciones del Departamento de Educación, comentó que en el último año se registraron 4,293 incidentes de bullying, de los cuales 276 fueron por asuntos de género, 201 por motivos de raza, 195 por orientación sexual y 143 por peso, entre otros, pero defendió el desempeño de las escuelas en la protección de los estudiantes.

“El Departamento de Educación trabaja para promover una cultura escolar positiva e inclusiva que esté libre de bullying basado en prejuicios, acoso e intimidación de ningún tipo, a través de una variedad de métodos”, dijo la funcionaria, destacando el programa “Respeto para todos” del DOE. “Aunque hemos dado pasos significativos para construir escuelas seguras, de apoyo e inclusivas para todos los estudiantes, especialmente para los más vulnerables que enfrentan sus retos únicos, sabemos que hay mucho trabajo por hacer”.

A pesar de las críticas, Jared Fox, director de la unidad de enlace LGBTQ del Departamento de Educación, aseguró que en las escuelas ha habido un enorme progreso contra el bullying de los estudiantes LGBT y mencionó la creación en junio del grupo LGBT+ Advisory Council que trabaja con 34 organizaciones para brindar apoyo a los alumnos y a sus familias.

“Hemos entrenado a más de 1,000 coordinadores de padres que están dentro de los más de 2,000 personas que personalmente he entrenado en casi 40 sesiones de desarrollo profesional”.

Toya Holness, vocera del Departamento de Educación, también defendió el proceder de las escuelas en la lucha contra el bullying.

“Nuestras escuelas son más seguras que nunca y tenemos protocolos explícitos y programas de formación sólidos para manejar cualquier incidente que ocurra”, dijo. “Nosotros tomamos los reportes de bullying muy seriamente y seguimos invirtiendo en iniciativas escolares, incluyendo más orientadores y trabajadores sociales, y proporcionando apoyo de salud mental para las escuelas”.

El concejal Rafael Salamanca hizo un llamado al Departamento de Educación para que se enfoque más en las necesidades de protección de los estudiantes vulnerables y mencionó que apoya la creación de una legislación que de paso sirva para educar sobre el respeto a la diferencia.

Por su parte el concejal Ydanis Rodríguez, quien trabajó 13 años en las escuelas públicas, mencionó que aunque los detalles de la iniciativa aun están por definirse, es partidario de una norma estricta con sanciones, que de paso eduque.

Ley contra el bullying

“Tenemos que asegurarnos de que todos los estudiantes sepan que hay una ley que castiga esos comportamientos y aunque no queremos criminalizar a nadie, si es urgente que sepan que vamos a hacer los que sea necesario para que en las escuelas se detenga la cultura de bullying que le ha quitado la vida a muchas personas”, dijo.

Paola Lebrón-Guzmán, líder del grupo LGBTQ Justice de la organización Make the Road New York, se mostró contraria a que la ley que se promueva se base en el castigo y coincidió con Rodríguez en que hay que educar más.

“Debe crearse una justicia para restaurar y eso es una práctica que tiene que partir de los reportes y comunicar mejor que más es lo que está pasando después de esos reportes”, mencionó la activista.

“El Departamento de Educación deben hacer mucho más, no solo presentar reportes sino ofrecer más entrenamientos y hacer seguimiento, porque aunque hay grupos de género y sexualidad en algunas escuelas, solo son para los que quieran estar involucrados, pero no existe para todos los maestros y para la administración”, dijo, al tiempo que mencionó el caso de uno estudiante LGBT de 16 años fue víctima de burla y agresión física en Crown Heights, Brooklyn el lunes pasado como un ejemplo para comenzar a actuar.

“Es inaceptable, ofensivo y desconcertante que eso ocurra y este es un momento importante para las escuelas de Brooklyn y de su escuela en particular, para que involucre a todos el cuerpo escolar a que aprendan sobre la comunidad LGBTQ y cómo ser aliados efectivos”, concluyó.

Datos sobre bullying en las escuelas

  • A nivel nacional el 22% de los estudiantes ha reportado haber sido víctima de bullying
  • Se calcula que cada año 13 millones de estudiantes enfrentan bullying en el país
  • Según el grupo Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) en el 2013 el 74.1% de los estudiantes LGBT fue acosado verbalmente por su orientación sexual y el 36.2% fue víctima de acoso físico
  • Un estudio del Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveló que el año pasado el 40% de los estudiantes LGBT consideró el suicidio y un año antes el 29% intentó hacerlo.
  • Por el bullying, el 60% de los estudiantes reportó sentirse triste o afectado en su vida cotidiana.
  • Se calcula que el 64% de los estudiantes que son víctima de bullying no lo reportan.
  • Las escuelas de Nueva York están señaladas de no reportar todos los incidentes de bullying
  • La Fiscalía de Nueva York descubrió que en el 2013 de las 1,792 escuelas públicas y charter de la Gran Manzana, el 70% no reportó un solo incidente de bullying o discriminación
  • En el 2015 el 94% de las escuelas reportó tan solo 10 o menos incidentes de bullying
  • Actualmente existen leyes y medidas contra el bullying como el “Acta del éxito para todos los estudiantes (ESSA)”, el “Acta por la dignidad de todos los estudiantes (NYC DASA)”, el “Acta de Escuelas seguras contra la violencia (SAVE Act)”, el programa “Respeto para Todos (RFA)” y la Regulación A-832, pero según los críticos parecen ser insuficientes para proteger a los estudiantes de Nueva York.
  • En el último año escolar se reportaron 4,293 incidentes de bullying, de los cuales 276 fueron por asuntos de género, 201 por motivos de raza, 195 por orientación sexual y 143 por peso, entre otros

Read more here.