Staffwide training supports an inclusive climate for LGBTQ students in a Westchester high school.
The faculty at Byram Hills High School attended a presentation this year on LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance by Lisa Scott of Center Lane Westchester Jewish Community Services. Center Lane is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) youth and community education center.
A consultation with Center Lane on specific student cases followed and there was "targeted training for teacher teams and pupil personnel team members working closely with vulnerable LGBTQ+ students," according to Byram Hills High School.
In addition, teachers administrators, and students attended the 2018 and 2019 PrideWorks Conference for LGBTQ Youth and their Allies in White Plains.
And school guidance counselors Greg Quirolo and Gary McCarthy have attended forums and workshops, most recently the Hudson Valley Trans Forum Nov. 22-23 at The Loft LGBT Community Center in White Plains.
The training efforts help foster an inclusive curriculum at BHHS said Quirolo and McCarthy in an email exchange.
Programs in place a the school include a Global Scholars curriculum for students to study the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as a unit on LGBTQ+ rights.
In health class, they study sexuality and LGBTQ+ topics.
And a science research project at the school for students and parents is called Gender Variant Children.
Policies and practices in place at the school include having all-gender bathrooms, an anti-bullying policy, and GSA support.
The school has an active Gay-Straight Alliance Club for LGBTQ+ students and runs activities that educate and spread awareness about the issues that impact LGBTQ+ youth.
The purpose of the two counselors to attend the TransForum is "to better understand the unique developmental and counseling needs of our LGBTQ+ students," Quirolo and McCarthy said in the email.
"While we are familiar with many of the challenges our LGBTQ+ students face, we also recognize that there is always more to learn and do. Our first priority is always to see and accept our LGBTQ+ students for who they are, as they are, and where they are in their individual development. We know from research that the most powerful factors related to healthy LGBTQ+ child developmental outcomes are an environment that is emotionally and physically safe and accepting."
"Seeking to gain new knowledge, we attended this year’s TransForum and learned more about how to create safe spaces and specific LGBTQ+ resources that are most helpful in the school setting. Our goal this year is to partner with students, parents, teachers, and administrators to continue developing LGBTQ+-related school counseling and district resources.”
Judy Troilo, executive director of the LOFT LGBT Community Center, said she applauds the school's commitment to promote inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students.
"Any school that is taking the time to meet the needs of their students is doing the right thing. There is a lot of kids that are gender fluid," Troilo said. "It is important to educate, not only teachers, but the administrators and the workers in school districts to be aware and respectful of peoples' personal experience. Any school that is making that effort I applaud."
The next PrideWorks Conference is on March 18. Click here for information.