El Diario: Concejo de Nueva York prohíbe las terapias de conversión

Concejales neoyorquinos aprueban legislación que ahora pasará a las manos del alcalde Bill de Blasio

Muchos niños y adolescentes que muestran tendencias gays a corta edad son sometidos a las llamadas terapias de conversión que pueden resulta traumatizantes.

Por Pedro S. Frisneda

Publicado en El Diario el 4 de Diciembre 2017

El Concejo Municipal de la Ciudad de Nueva York aprobó el jueves un proyecto de ley que prohíbe la llamada terapia de conversión que apunta a cambiar la orientación sexual de una persona. El Comité de Derechos Civiles del Concejo ya había aprobado la misma legislación el miércoles.

El proyecto de ley, que la presidenta del Concejo, Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) y el concejal Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) presentaron en junio, prohíbe a cualquier persona cobrar por servicios de terapia que intenten alterar la sexualidad de una persona (por lo general gay) o cambiar su identidad de género para que coincida con su sexo asignado al nacer.

De ser convertido en ley por el alcalde Bill de Blasio, el proyecto, que fue aprobado con 43 votos a favor y dos en contra, impondría multas a los infractores por un monto de $1,000 por la primera ofensa, $5,000 por la segunda ofensa y $10,000 por cada ofensa subsiguiente.

“Nos aseguraremos que todas las personas vivan sin temor a la coacción para convertirse en alguien que no son. La terapia de conversión es bárbara e inhumana, y aquí mismo, en la ciudad de Nueva York, seguiremos siendo el modelo de aceptación en todo el país, ya que prohibimos la terapia de conversión de una vez por todas”, dijo Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Por su parte, el concejal Dromm, quien es abiertamente gay aseguró que “la terapia de conversión es una forma de tortura psicológica, claro y simple”. “Tan ridículo como pueda parecer, la práctica aún persiste incluso en Nueva York”, agregó Dromm.

En febrero del 2016 el gobernador del estado de Nueva York, Andrew Cuomo, tomó medidas para prohibir que las compañías de seguros cubran la terapia de conversión, pero los esfuerzos para prohibir la práctica en sí se han estancado en la Legislatura estatal.

Actualmente, nueve estados en el país y el Distrito de Columbia han prohibido la terapia de conversión de alguna manera, según el Centro Nacional para los Derechos de las Lesbianas. Otros 21 estados están preparando normas o proyectos de ley en el mismo sentido que buscan proteger principalmente a niños y adolescentes.

No es un problema mental o emocional

Según explica la Asociación Americana de Psicología (APA), en su portal de internet, más de 35 años de investigación científica objetiva y bien diseñada han demostrado que la homosexualidad, en sí misma, no se asocia con trastornos mentales ni problemas emocionales o sociales. Esto es apoyado por la mayoría de psicólogos, psiquiatras y otros profesionales de la salud mental en EEUU.

En 1973, la Asociación Americana de Psiquiatría confirmó la importancia de una investigación nueva y mejor diseñada y suprimió la terminología “homosexual” del manual oficial que detalla los trastornos mentales y emocionales. Dos años después, la APA promulgó una resolución apoyando esta supresión.

Durante más de 25 años, ambas asociaciones solicitaron a todos los profesionales de la salud mental que ayuden a disipar el estigma de enfermedad mental que algunas personas todavía asocian con la “orientación homosexual”

También, el Colegio Americano de Médicos (ACP), la segunda mayor organización médica de EEUU, se posicionó en contra de estas terapias.

No cambian la orientación sexual

“Aún cuando la mayoría de los homosexuales viven vidas felices y exitosas, algunas personas homosexuales o bisexuales pueden buscar un cambio en su orientación sexual a través de la terapia, a menudo como resultado de coacción por parte de miembros de su familia o grupos religiosos. La realidad es que la homosexualidad no es una enfermedad. No requiere tratamiento y no puede cambiarse”, indica la Asociación Americana de Psicología.

Leer más aquí.

NYC Conversion Therapy Ban To Get Council Vote

The bill would outlaw therapy that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

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By Noah Manskar

Originally published by Patch on November 29, 2017

NEW YORK, NY — The City Council will vote Thursday on a bill that would ban so-called conversion therapy that aims to change someone’s sexual orientation. The Council’s Committee on Civil Rights approved the legislation Wednesday.

The bill, which Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens) introduced in June, would ban anyone from charging for therapy services that try to alter a person’s sexuality or change their gender identity to match their sex assigned at birth.

Violators would get a $1,000 fine for the first offense, a $5,000 fine for the second offense and a $10,000 for each subsequent offense.

Conversion therapy is widely assailed as an unscientific, anti-gay practice. Many lawmakers across the nation have taken steps to outlaw conversion therapy on minors, but the City Council bill would ban the treatment for adults too.

“Vulnerable individuals, including minors, are susceptible to the hucksters and scammers who are eager to earn a quick buck in this insidious way,” Dromm said at Wednesday’s committee hearing.

The legislation would not impact therapy services for transgender people or counseling for people exploring their sexual orientation, as long as it doesn’t aim to change the person’s sexuality, the bill says.

Conversion therapy, often supported and performed by religious groups, can harm young people by wrongly making them think their normal sexuality is an immoral psychological disorder, the American Psychological Association says.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have outlawed conversion therapy in some way, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Gov. Andrew Cuomo took steps last year to prohibit insurance companies from covering conversion therapy, but efforts to ban the practice itself have stalled in the state Legislature.

Read more here.

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.

REPORT: 1 IN 10 NYC STUDENTS HOMELESS AT SOME POINT LAST YEAR

By Lindsey Christ

Originally published by NY1 on October 11, 2017

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With more homeless children attending city public schools than ever before, a city council committee heard testimony Wednesday that the education department is not doing enough to address the crisis. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ has the story.

One in ten city students was homeless at some point last school year, according to new state numbers.

That’s a record 111,500 students, a six percent jump from the year before.

Members of the city council say it’s a staggering problem.

“It is a crisis, and the numbers are mind blowing, actually,” Queens City Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “It seems like they are trying to get a handle on it, but they are not quite there yet.”

Education department and Homeless Services officials testified for several hours on student homelessness before the council on Wednesday.

“We know that for many of them, school is a vital source of stability,” Deputy Schools Chancellor Elizabeth Rose testified. “To this end, we provide additional academic, health, and mental health supports and services.”

The mayor has included a temporary appropriation of $10 million in each of the last two city budgets to support homeless students.

But advocates point out that the spending was almost cut this year. They also say it’s not nearly enough. At more than 150 schools, at least ten percent of students live in shelters, but the funding provides only 43 social workers dedicated to homeless families.

“The level of trauma that a child goes through living in shelter, I don’t think we are adequately prepared to help them with,” Brooklyn City Councilman Stephen Levin said.

Another troubling statistic is how many families are placed in shelters in the same borough as the youngest child’s school. Only half of families were sheltered in the same borough, down from 70 percent four years ago — and well short of the goal of 85 percent.

“I read that and I see an ever-deteriorating situation,” Levin said during the council meeting.

Being sheltered far from school means children endure long commutes and frequently miss classes. More than half of students in shelters miss at least a month of school.

Last year, the city began offering bus service for kindergarten through sixth graders in shelters. 5,000 students are now picked up from 500 bus stops and brought to 1,000 different schools.

But education outcomes for students in shelters remain dismal. Only 15 percent are on track in reading and 12 percent of students are on track in math.

See 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.

Talking About Coming Out With the Cast of ‘Fun Home’

By Elizabeth A. Harris

Originally posted by the New York Times on August 25, 2016.

At a gathering with the cast of “Fun Home,” which won the Tony for best musical, Samuel Nathanson, a volunteer with Pflag NYC, tells his story of coming out as transgender to his mother. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

At a gathering with the cast of “Fun Home,” which won the Tony for best musical, Samuel Nathanson, a volunteer with Pflag NYC, tells his story of coming out as transgender to his mother. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The volunteers visit schools in pairs. One person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the other has a family member in one of those categories. They stand at the front of a classroom and tell their families’ coming-out stories.

This month, about two dozen of these volunteers received an invitation that could, perhaps, happen nowhere but New York City: Would they like to get some public speaking lessons from the cast of a Broadway show? It’s called “Fun Home,” and it won a bunch of Tonys.

The show, adapted from the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, follows a woman through phases of her life as she learns that both she and her father are gay. The show, which won the Tony for best musical, among other awards, is now approaching the end of its run. It is scheduled to close in September and go on a national tour a few weeks later. The volunteers were invited to attend a workshop on Wednesday, and then to stay to watch the show.

“We thought they could learn a lot from professional actors about public speaking skills,” said Drew Tagliabue, the executive director of Pflag NYC, an organization for family members of gay and transgender people. The group runs the Safe Schools Program, which sends those emissaries into classrooms to talk about coming out.

And so it was that about two dozen Pflag volunteers, some in their 20s, clad in sneakers and tattoos, others comfortably into retirement age, found themselves in the very guts of the Great White Way — a windowless, subterranean room in Midtown Manhattan with gray linoleum floors below the Circle in the Square Theater.

Volunteers meeting with cast members in Midtown. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Volunteers meeting with cast members in Midtown. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Before them sat six cast members from the musical: Michael Cerveris, who plays Bruce, the father; Judy Kuhn (Helen, the mother); Beth Malone (Alison, the main character); Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison, the character in college); Roberta Colindrez (Joan, the college girlfriend); and Kally Duling (the understudy for Medium Alison and Joan).

But what was planned as a class about how to hold onto an audience became something different. There were two sample presentations, but instead of coaching, there was a conversation between two groups of people, strangers to one another, about how what they do — whether on a Broadway stage or in a busy public-school classroom — is actually quite similar. They tell stories that are not often told.

“I have some advice for anyone who is thinking of coming out, or if you have friends who are thinking of coming out,” said Samuel Nathanson, 24, a Pflag volunteer who tells his story of coming out as transgender to his mother. “Don’t do it while your mom is driving.”

The Safe Schools Program in New York City began about 15 years ago, not so many years back, but at a time when gay issues received an immeasurably chillier reception in this country than they do today.

“We got a lot of pushback in the beginning,” said Suzanne Ramos, a Pflag NYC board member and the mother of a gay man. “Back then, schools used to say: ‘Oh, we don’t need anything like that. We don’t have any gay kids here.’”

“Fun Home,” adapted from the memoir by Alison Bechdel, follows a woman as she learns that both she and her father are gay. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

“Fun Home,” adapted from the memoir by Alison Bechdel, follows a woman as she learns that both she and her father are gay. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Today, Mr. Tagliabue and Ms. Ramos said, schools are much more open. During the last school year, volunteers spoke to almost 6,000 students. That is many more students, and often much younger children, than they used to address.

Still, there is resistance. Councilman Daniel Dromm, a Democrat who helped found Pflag Queens, and who quietly found a folding chair toward the back of the room on Wednesday, said it took years to get Pflag into certain schools. Mr. Dromm, who is gay, has been involved with the group for a long time.

When Ms. Malone takes the stage, or when Mr. Nathanson stands up to face rows of young people at desks, they are not just speaking to the most obvious audiences. There are gay people who come to “Fun Home” eager to see a story even a little like their own sung on a stage, just as there might be gay teenagers in a classroom relieved to see that when they grow up, they might just be all right. But there are others.

“There are people who come to New York, who show up in the summer and they just want to see what won best musical — ‘We’ll just go see that!’” Mr. Cerveris said. “Those audiences are, in some ways I think, our favorite ones, because we’re not preaching to the choir at that point.”

“And as you go into schools, you may have a couple receptive kids,” Mr. Cerveris continued. “You’re trying to give those kids a sense of confidence and help them feel not so alone, but you’re also, maybe even more, helping other kids who don’t know that their minds need to be opened.”

“The thing that we have discovered so fully,” he added, “is the value of showing up and telling stories.”

Read more here.

Dancing and Drag Performances Planned for Pride Prom at Queens Museum

By Katie Honan

Originally published by DNAinfo on May 19, 2016

Lady Quesadilla will host Pride Prom at the Queens Museum.

Lady Quesadilla will host Pride Prom at the Queens Museum.

CORONA — Eat, dance and enjoy being your fabulous self at next week’s Pride Prom, which offers a do-over for those who felt excluded from their own high school celebration.

The free event, which will be held Tuesday, May 24 at the Queens Museum, will feature prizes, music from DJ Yayo and performances by host Lady Quesadilla.

The idea is to offer a safe place for celebration, for people of all ages, according to organizers.

“A proper rite of passage for individuals of all ages, this celebration is for anyone who is currently being shut out of their prom, was excluded in the past or simply did not feel welcome to be themselves,” the event’s listing page says.

City Councilman Danny Dromm — who organized the borough’s first pride parade — is the special guest.

The prom is open to everyone, young and old, who wants to celebrate themselves and others.

The event sponsored by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Hispanic Federation, with support from Make the Road New York, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, The Hetrick-Martin Institute and other groups.

You can register for the event here.

Read more here.

Ed Department’s First LGBTQ Liaison Aims to Make Schools Safe for Everyone

Originally published in DNAinfo on January 26, 2016

Jared Fox is the first to hold the position with the DOE. Photo courtesy of Jared Fox.

NEW YORK CITY — Jared Fox’s first job when he joined the Department of Education was training teachers across the city to use smartboards, iPads and other technology.

But it was his volunteer after-school work as the founder of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s New York chapter that led him to his current groundbreaking position with the DOE — as the department’s first liaison for LGBTQ students.

“The thing that kept me awake at night was LGBTQ students, and making sure that they were safe,” said Fox, 28, who said he experienced discrimination while growing up gay in Cleveland and attending Catholic schools, and even as an adult while teaching in Louisiana.

“This position is really important for kids who are out and experiencing things [like] bullying and coming to terms with their identity. Then there’s also this huge population of kids who are still trying to figure out who they are.”

The position was created within the department’s Office of Safety and Youth Development to support LGBTQ students and work with the community.

So far, Fox has settled into the job by listening and meeting with principals, teachers and students. While some schools have established groups and resources for LGBTQ students, others are just starting to pull those things together, he said.

Lois Herrera, CEO of the Office of Safety and Youth Development, said the DOE hopes to “promote a positive school climate and culture” for LGBTQ students.

Fox is “a valuable addition to our team, who will be working with city agencies and community organizations to help schools support, protect and provide resources to LGBTQ students, families and community members,” she added.

Funding for the role was made possible by the City Council, which voted to set aside money in the budget for the position. Spearheading the charge was Councilman Danny Dromm, a former public school teacher who came out in 1992 and has been at the forefront of pushing for LGBTQ issues.

Dromm said when he worked in the classroom, gay teachers and students had to stay mostly closeted. He was even disciplined by his Sunnyside school administration after telling his students he was gay.

“The department has taken a bold step forward to assure students and teachers alike that anti-gay discrimination will not be tolerated and that, in fact, the department will look for ways to be more inclusive of the LGBT communities,” Dromm said.

For Fox, the journey to his new job has been a very personal one.

As a student in Cleveland, his mom had to pull him out of his local Catholic high school because of bullying. He transferred to his local public school, which he said was the “best thing that happened to me.”

While there, he started the city’s first gay-straight alliance, pushing for same-sex couples to be allowed at proms.

Fox later taught English through the Teach for America program in a New Orleans-area school, finding more students who needed his guidance.

The city is “a blue dot in a red state, but it’s still Louisiana,” he said, and many kids struggled with their identities.

He eventually launched another gay-straight alliance, this time as a teacher, helping students come to terms with their sexuality and offering a place for them to discuss it.

Fox’s three years as a teacher in Louisiana “helped me to build a lot of empathy with what teachers go through and having to make schools safer,” he said.

He joined the DOE three years ago in their technology department, and he’s excited to now be able to make his part-time passion his focus.

“As we go forward it’s first about listening and then about building a community-driven strategy,” he said.

Fox has taken an interest in the school curriculum, which he said currently only includes the history of the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS epidemic in its LGBTQ-related curriculum.

“That’s the only two things that’s state-mandated that kids need to learn — you have to fight, and you’re going to die,” he said.

He hopes to expand that curriculum by bringing LGBTQ authors into schools and adding their books to the curriculum so students have a more balanced portrayal.

Ultimately, Fox’s job is to make a more welcoming environment for everyone, including teachers, faculty and families.

“I want them to feel safe,” he said.

Read more here.

WNYC: A Lawmaker’s Personal Mission: More LGBT-Friendly Schools

A Lawmaker’s Personal Mission: More LGBT-Friendly Schools

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 – 07:24 PM

By ILYA MARRITZ

Every day, young people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender are teased by other kids in school, and sometimes they have problems with school administrators too. The new head of New York City Council’s Education Committee, Daniel Dromm, wants the public schools to do more to protect them. And his reasons are personal.

Dromm worked as a schoolteacher for 25 years. He recalled how in the charged atmosphere of the early 1990s, city schools were issued a new tolerance curriculum called “Children of the Rainbow.”

Dromm picked that moment to come out as gay. It didn’t go well.

“Our principal later crumpled a flyer that I had placed in the teacher lounge for the LGBT teachers association, marched up to my classroom, and threw it at me, saying, ‘Don’t put this S-H’ – and I’ll let you fill in the other letters – ‘on the walls of my school again,” Dromm said.

Fortunately for Dromm, he had tenure. The chancellor at the time was less lucky — he lost his job over the rainbow curriculum controversy.

read more: http://www.wnyc.org/story/lawmakers-personal-mission-make-schools-more-lgbt-friendly/