Group launches campaign to support gay East Tenn. students

Group launches campaign to support gay students in East Tennessee schools


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The East Tennessee chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is launching the Safe Space Campaign in schools. It's designed to promote visible support for LGBT students.

The Safe Space Kit provides ways school staff can take action to create a positive learning environment for each student.

Each kit contains 10 Safe Space Stickers, two posters and a 42-page Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students. It gives strategies for supporting the students, including how to educate about anti-LGBT bias and teaching respect for all.

The national campaign aims to place a Safe Space Kit in every public and private high school in the U.S.

GLSEN East Tennessee is partnering with the University of Tennessee OUTreach Center, UT LAMBDA Legal Society, PFLAG Maryville, Tennessee Equality Project and the OUTstanding Seminar at UT.

"The East Tennessee GLSEN chapter is proud to support this critical effort to let LGBT students know that they are not alone," said GLSEN Co-Chair Dr. Keith Hnilica. "LGBT students need to know that they have adult allies in their schools that they can turn to and who support them."

In addition to GLSEN's direct outreach to administrators and staff, community members can purchase Safe Space Kits and send them to middle or high schools of their choice. The kits cost $20 each.

"Every student deserves a safe space in school," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "The single most important line of defense for young people in crisis at school is a network of visibly supportive adults."

In addition to individual people taking part in the program, Safe Space Kits have been distributed in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District and New York City Department of Education, as well as every Maine secondary school.

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