Not sure if we have any Mississippi members, but if we do, worth checking out if you can. And, if you can, report back to us here!
JACKSON, MS - On Friday and Saturday, October 10-11, the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition will convene its inaugural conference addressing the harassment and bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.
The Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, which was formed this fall, is led by students across Mississippi working to promote student safety through a number of educational strategies and policies. These strategies will include urging Mississippi schools and communities to adopt comprehensive non-discrimination policies, training coordinators, and developing local strategies to educate students on their constitutional rights. Members of the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition are working together with the LGBT Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Jackson chapter of Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to ensure that all students have access to public education that is safe and free from discrimination.
LGBT students in this state face the most hostile school environment in the country, according to a 2004 report by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which ranked Mississippi last in a nationwide study of school anti-bullying policies. Mississippi is the only state to both tolerate school bullying on a policy level and preach an explicitly anti-gay message as part of its public school curriculum.
Harassment and bullying is extremely widespread. According to a recent study conducted by the California Department of Education, 91percent of students report hearing anti-gay remarks from their peers--and 44 percent from their teachers.
Harassment and bullying of LGBT students has profound and tragic consequences. According to a 2005 study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, 64.3% of gay and lesbian students and 40.7% of transgender students report feeling unsafe at school as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a 1999 study by the Massachusetts Department of Education, 33 percent of gay and lesbian youth attempt suicide.
"It is important that high school students have the same opportunities to learn and grow, regardless of their background," states Jamie Carter of the University of Mississippi's Gay-Straight Alliance. "Inclusive educational environments prepare our children to be the leaders of the future."
More details on the event can be found online at www.supportstudentsafety.com.