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APS sends team to workshop on safe schools for LGBTQ students

Submitted by on May 14, 2019 – 12:30 amNo Comment


A team of administrators, counselors, and teachers from Alpena Public Schools, along with educators from across the region, recently attended a workshop in Sault Ste. Marie on A Silent Crisis: Creating Safe and Supportive Schools for LGBTQ Students.

The workshop focused on helping school personnel and administrators understand, assess, and improve school climate and safety for all youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

Research consistently finds this group to be at higher risk for homelessness, alcohol and substance abuse, harassment, assaults, suicide, school failure/dropout, and truancy.

Kim Phillips-Knope, Safe and Supportive Schools Consultant at the Michigan Department of Education, helped lead the training. Educators in attendance also heard from a panel of seven LGBTQ students from the Sault Area Schools who described their struggle to fit into a regular school environment. Several of the students described instances of bullying, but many also pointed to a teacher or school counselor who made them feel accepted and supported within the school environment.

One Alpena High School student recently shared, “I just want to live my life, and this is just one part of my entire being. It gets very hard keeping everything bottled up inside. My teachers have been very supportive and helpful. People just have to learn how to embrace differences.”

Educators learned about major health and educational risks faced by LGBTQ students and skills for responding to and intervening with students, staff, and the broader school community to create a safer school environment.

“Every student deserves to feel safe and supported at school,” said Justin Gluesing, Assistant Superintendent and Title IX Coordinator for Alpena Public Schools. “Our team left with a wealth of resources that will assist with creating a quality space for all students within our schools.”