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School of Hard Knocks

Hostile Hallways

'You Should Want Your Kids to Have a Safe School' continued...

PFLAG's Safe Schools Project is designed to allay fears engendered by a lack of understanding of what it means to be -- or to love someone --- who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, Garramone tells WebMD.

"Our program sends parents into the schools to tell their personal stories about what it's like to have a gay child. Kids get to see that gay teenagers -- especially the ones they're making fun of -- come from a family that loves them regardless of their sexual orientation," she says. "We think that the next time they go to make fun of that kid, they see those parents who love their child."

"Parents need to get involved -- and we can't say 'only if you're the parent of a gay kid,'" Brown says. "Parents need to get involved and understand that the impact of this is broader. You should want your kids to have a safe school, and we've got to make sure that they're mobilized against the minority of parents that are going to raise Cain [about protecting the rights of GLBT students]."

Among the key recommendations in their report, Brown and colleagues write that all school districts should ensure that their nondiscrimination policies include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, that such policies are adequately implemented, and that staff and students receive appropriate training in tolerance and diversity. They also call on state legislatures to enact legislation to protect students from harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and for the U.S. Department of Education to "monitor school districts for compliance with the principle of nondiscrimination, intervene where the policies are failing, and include sexual orientation and gender identity in any data collection tools measuring discrimination in education."

For the record, Dylan N. was shuffled from one school to the next, including an "alternative education" program for troubled and poorly performing students, and finally an adult education program, a setting where, he later learned, he would not be eligible for a diploma. He never got the education guaranteed to him by the U.S. Constitution.-->

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