It's that time of year! The teachers we train through the BTSA program are completing the year, graduating from our program and hoping to get their credentials. Most of the students in our service-learning class are graduating as well. Just as we are saying goodbye to them we are holding auditions for our next class.
We are so proud of this class and of the incredible work they have done this year to stop homophobic bullying in schools. It's been an exciting year! We have added some new elements to our project - a Tumblr blog for the teachers to access 24 hours a day to get resources about making their schools safe and inclusive. We also have a private Facebook group for our students - we use it to post and discuss issues related to this work and to give reminders about rehearsals and costumes etc.
Wish us luck on pullling together our next class of dedicated young actors - auditions will be done in June and we will be back training teachers in August. Over the summer, we will be busy planning and writing scripts and preparing for another fantastic year.
Thanks for being a part of it - we couldn't do it without you.
“At first, I did not see why I was required to attend this training, I thought it wouldn’t be relevant for elementary school teachers. But the presenter and the student actors really showed us how much influence elementary school teachers have on student attitudes. I also have to say that the training, even though it was about a serious subject, was a lot of fun. It should be required for all teachers” – 2nd grade teacher
In the past few months, we have been training quite a few teachers from elementary school, even some who teach pre-K. They have been so open to learning about the topic – even when they think homophobic bullying only happens in middle and high school.
We’ve also been training teachers from private religious schools (away from their schools) and have been impressed by compassionate educators who care about all of their students’ safety and mental health –even when the school policies allow for the expulsion of students who are identified as LGBT. Standing up for a student without outing him/her is a real challenge for these teachers.
We are grateful for the opportunity to work with all types of teachers and to help them address the unique circumstances at their schools and create safety for students targeted by homophobia. We are grateful to YOU for helping make this project possible.
We are thrilled to report that we have signed on for another year of training teachers for the Beginning Teachers Support and Assessment (BTSA) program in Orange County, California. We are making some exciting changes to the program, including using videos to help teachers assess their own comfort and competence in handling specific situations of homophobia in the classroom. The teachers will be able to do the self-assessments online before attending our training - this will allow us to customize the training and to have more time for the interactive component
.We have a new partnership with two excellent organizations that are working to change school environments - Western Justice Center and Community Matters.
Our program will now be offered through the Institute for Safe and Inclusive Schools which will allow us access to a larger number of schools.
We've been approached by a student filmmaker who wants to do a documentary about the program- from the perspective of the student actors. This student was part of our original cast so we are excited to have her play a role in telling our story. More on this soon!
A quick update on the Creating Bias-Free Classrooms program:
We’ve had great success training hundreds of teachers in Southern California. Here are a few representative comments:
"There is a line in one of the scenes where the student says, 'teachers act like they don't see anything that goes on around here'. That really struck me. When it comes to homophobic bullying, there is some truth to that. I never really thought about it before this training. I react right away to racial remarks, why not anti-gay remarks? This training did make me uncomfortable but probably also will make me a better teacher."
"I didn't really think this would be relevant for 2nd grade teachers. I was totally wrong. After the training, I realized that there are all sorts of small incidents that occur all the time in class. They may be too young too do the harshest type of bullying but the attitudes are already forming. I can do something about that."
"Wow, this was very eye-opening. I'm sad to say that my schools really isn't a safe place for kids like Alex. If every teacher went through this training, that would surely change."
Listen to a report on KPCC, public radio about our project:
We are developing a new partnership with Lee Wind, the creator of this award winning blog for LGBT teens: http://www.leewind.org/ Look for some exciting new offerings soon!
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