LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Beginning tomorrow on the 25th National Coming Out Day, students in the nation's second largest school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), will see thousands of their teachers and staff members "come out" by wearing badges that will identify them as allies for LGBT students, staff and families.
Leaders of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and LAUSD jointly announced the groundbreaking "Out for Safe Schools" initiative, which was proposed and developed by the Center's Project SPIN (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now), at a press conference held today at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center.
LAUSD staff who participate in the initiative will wear the rainbow badges in an effort to make the schools safer and more welcoming. More than 30,000 badges—which represents one-third of LAUSD's entire staff—have already been requested and more are on order.
The badges, which will be distributed on National Coming Out Day, have the word "ally" in seven languages on the front and contain a handy list of district and community resources on the back.
"We want all our youth and staff to know that is it safe to be you in LAUSD," said Superintendent Dr. John Deasy.
LAUSD has more than 655,000 students enrolled in grades K-12, and its research indicates nearly 11 percent may identify as LGBT. Additionally, 16 percent have LGBT family members.
"Every day, LGBT kids are vulnerable to taunts and abuse—physical and verbal—simply because they're different," said Alan Acosta, the Center's Director of Strategic Initiatives. "Beginning tomorrow, every one of L.A.'s 655,000 public school students will know and see there are adults at their school who support and care about LGBT kids. I applaud the district for stepping up its efforts to support school communities by encouraging its staff to become visible allies. In the eyes of an LGBT student or family member, seeing all of these adults on campus wearing 'ally' badges will be a welcomed sight. More than that, it sends an important message of acceptance."
Last week the LAUSD Board of Education unanimously voted to approve a resolution, written by board member Monica Garcia representing District 2, that called for the district to celebrate the 25th National Coming Out Day
The Center is the lead funder of the "Out for Safe Schools" initiative. Additional funding has been provided by the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Network, GLIDE (Gay & Lesbians Initiating Dialogue for Equality), the YMCA, and the LAUSD's bargaining units: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (ALAA).
About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
For more than 40 years, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of LGBT people. We serve more LGBT people than any other organization in the world with services ranging from LGBT specialty care to cultural arts programs; from housing homeless youth to hosting life-enriching programs for seniors. Learn more at lagaycenter.org
About the L.A. Unified School District
Second largest in the nation, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) enrolls more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, at over 900 schools, and 187 public charter schools. The boundaries spread over 720 square miles and include the mega-city of Los Angeles as well as all or parts of 31 smaller municipalities plus several unincorporated sections of Southern California.
About the Center's Project SPIN
Project SPIN is a coalition of organizations, the L.A. Unified School District, and community members working to provide support for youth who attend school within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
SOURCE L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center