The Office of Youth Advocacy in San Diego Unified School District has recently hired dedicated staff to address the needs of LGBQT+ students. Sophia Arredondo has been hired as the Program Manager for LGBTQ+ Education and Advocacy and Mick Rabin has been hired as the Project Resource Teacher focusing on LGBTQ+ Education and Advocacy. Sophia has served as the director of the Hillcrest Youth LGBQT+ Center and has experience in providing training on LGBTQ+ topics. Mick Rabin was a teacher at Oak Park Elementary for many years and is a GLSEN San Diego board member. Mick has also been serving on the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee along with many other staff, community, and parents (including Derby Pattengill, representing the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs). The purpose of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee–formerly the Safe Schools Taskforce–is to support a nondiscrimination policy to ensure a healthier learning environment for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students.
The Office of Youth Advocacy is providing a professional development for K-5 educators in SDUSD focusing on LGBTQ+ student safety, inclusion, and affirmation on March 16, 2016 from 4 pm – 6 pm at the Ballard Center. There will be an additional PD offered to 6-12 educators on March 24. Educators will have the opportunity to explore questions like:
- What does the SDUSD anti-bullying and harassment policy require of educators?
- Do the current federal and state laws that address bullying and harassment affect me
- Can I play a part in taking a stand against bullying and harassment in schools? How?
- Why I should be concerned with bullying that targets youth?
- What does it mean to become an “ally” to LGBT youth?
- If I do become an ally to LGBT youth, what kind of administrative support should I expect?
- How do I comply with the Fair Education Act, SB 48, which mandates the contributions of LGBT people into the curriculum?
- Where can I find lessons that I can use in my classroom that promote understanding and
affirmation of difference?
In addition to the training, advocacy efforts have been underway to promote healthier student environments through peer-to-peer outreach at school sites such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA), OUT for Safe School Badges, a school climate survey, and collaboration with the Sexual Health Education Program (to name a few). Lastly, an online form to report bullying is now available. However, anyone that observes or experiences a bullying incident is encouraged to report the occurrence at the school site.
For more information about current projects and resources for LGBTQ+ safety and inclusion,, (including curriculum), visit the SDUSD LGBTQ+ page. Download the LGBTQ+ Update Presentation given at the San Diego Board of Education Meeting held on February 9 here. For questions, contact Mick Rabin at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sophia Arredondo at email@example.com or call 619.725.5595
One of the key objectives of PTA is to advocate for the overall health and well-being of every child and PTA has maintained over 119 years of encouraging diversity and inclusion. In May of 2015, the delegates of the California State PTA Convention passed a resolution titled “LGBTQ+ INCLUSIVENESS IN HEALTH EDUCATION CALIFORNIA” where one of the call to actions is to have “units, councils and districts urge local education agencies to provide LGBTQ+ inclusive age-appropriate, medically accurate curricular materials and campus resources.” The SDUCPTA has participated in the LGBQT+ Advisory Committee since the beginning and feels the efforts of SDUSD aligns well with the resolution but there is still much more work to do. If you have any concerns, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (619) 297-7821.