LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which recently teamed up to end LGBTQ youth suicide and reduce homophobia in the nation’s second largest school district, hosted an historic summit yesterday to draft a comprehensive plan of action. Participants included LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and approximately 200 educators and administrators, LGBTQ and youth advocates, Center staff and student leaders.
The collaboration, dubbed Project SPIN (Suicide Prevention Intervention Now), was initiated by the Center following last year’s horrible rash of LGBT youth suicides.
"The time is now for an extraordinary effort to stop even the thought of suicide among LGBT youth," says Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. "We simply cannot afford the loss of even one more young life to bullying, exclusion or anti-LGBT discrimination. This historic collaboration will pave a life-saving path for LGBT and questioning youth who have been victims of ignorance and bigotry and thought about taking their lives. Together, we’ll build a community where all youth feel safe, respected and loved, both in and out of the classroom."
The 2009 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) concluded that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ middle and high school students experienced harassment at school in the past year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 12-18.
"Our students must feel safe and affirmed to reach their full potential—in LAUSD, in their families and neighborhoods," says LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia. "Today, we challenge ourselves to partner, learn and create a pathway to end suicidal ideation for LGBTQ students."
Summit organizers from the Center and LAUSD will now compile a final report and recommendations before submitting a proposed plan of action to LAUSD. Additionally, a community council will be convened to ensure a high level of community involvement and to help build a support network for LGBTQ students and their schools. Working groups of the council will focus on the following areas: community assets, mental health, curriculum development and research and evaluation.
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