Tuesday, February 9, 2010

SF Chronicle: S.F. school board OKs new gay support program

This from the SF Chronicle:
The San Francisco school board added to the district's massive $113 million shortfall over the next two years by voting Tuesday night to fund a substantial increase in instruction and services related to gay and lesbian issues.

Though the district is facing layoffs and significant program cuts, board members unanimously agreed that the estimated $120,000 annual price tag was worth it to support gay and lesbian students - children who are more likely to experience bullying and skip school because they are afraid.

The resolution calls for adding a district position to manage "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning" youth issues. It also requires the district to keep tabs on harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and distribute educational packets every year to parents encouraging them to discuss sexuality, gender identity and safety with their children.

19 comments:

  1. The amount of funding is not accurate - the Board's action tonight committed us to $60,000, not $120,000 as reported. Read:
    http://rachelnorton.com/2010/02/08/about-that-costly-gay-support-program/

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  2. Lots of gays in SF, and they vote.

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  3. I am completely annoyed at the increased class sizes and a still wondering why in the world they funded the Cobb Montessori move (particularly now that every Pac Height resident is going to get neighborhood preference) but I do think this program is necessary and I applaud the Board's action.

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  4. I agree that this is a very worthy issue. Bullying for me as a gay man started in middle school -- and I lived through hell in both middle and high school. Some gay kids simply can't handle the harassment. This is a very small amount of money to try to fix a very serious, real problem. I'm really shocked at the tone of the Chronicle article that suggests this is some "costly" program. I also resent the comment above that this is being done because gay people are a political force. It is a drop in the bucket for a very worthy cause.

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  5. Rachel, thanks for the clarification about the amount of money. It is a very small amount, and it seems more appropriate to the district's mission of ensuring that kids get the support they need to surmount obstacles to their education. It certainly makes a lot more sense than spending a fortune on over-complicated assignment systems that don't achieve better or more diverse schools.

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  6. can people not post anything here like "in a time of budget crisis, how could the school board" blah blah. this is not a lot of money, and if we can't do this sort of important teaching in SF, then where can it ever be done?

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  7. The budget situation is appalling, but this program is hardly out there and being voted for because there are "lots of gays in SF, and they vote"....Protection of ALL children is the goal.

    Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (age 11)

    Constantly bullied, he ends his life at age 11 - The Boston Globe

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/04/20/constantly_bullied_he_ends_his_life_at_age_11/

    Lawrence King (age 13)
    Boy's Killing, Labeled a Hate Crime, Stuns a Town - New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/us/23oxnard.html

    Jaheem Herrera (age 11)
    My bullied son's last day on Earth - CNN.com
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/23/bullying.suicide/

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  8. this money seems TOTALLY worth it to me. All of us could have gay kids so even if you don't think the money is well spent to protect everyone from potential violence or exclusion -- which I do, just look at as money well spent to help your kid.

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  9. Anon 7:21 and 7:48, I sure hope your kid isn't gay. Or that if he/she is, this program is in place. Because the gay/lesbian dropout rate, let alone the suicide rate, is very high. And if your kid isn't gay, maybe he/she will grow up more aware than you are.

    I'm gay, I vote, and I didn't even know this was coming. But thank goodness it is.

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  10. Thank you, 1:19 for the helpful posts with citations to some horrible stories. This is 9:23 am again. The scars that many gay kids received in middle and high school remain throughout their lives. I'm a pretty together tough person who has done well career-wise and had the wonderful fortune to be able to adopt two wonderful kids. But, to this day, the bullying and beating I experienced as a gay kid in middle and high school still haunts me. The worst was that I felt I had no one to turn to. This program is so necessary -- I only hope districts around the country are seeing this effort and making strides toward proteting gay kids like SF is. Bravo, Rachel and the other members of the Board!

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  11. This is the kind of expenditure that increases equity and access.

    It bothers me that the Chronicle found this worthy of two articles, but thought that the expense accounts of District administrators weren't worth any ink, although those accounts cost the District similar sums of cash.

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  12. I'm gay. I have kids in the public schools. As noble as this program is, I cannot thing of a worse time for this. Good lord. Send out a memo to the teachers to have a talk about families and call it a day. Paying money for a position during these drastic budget cuts is appalling.

    And while I'm at it, why don't the head administrators take a 10% pay cut? They can afford it.

    And why not ask every parent for a voluntary $1000 contribution to their school? An overwhelming majority of SF parents can afford that (in lieu of private school fees), and the families who can't don't have to. We understand.

    We must get more creative with this budget crisis.

    As I said, I'm gay. I'm a whacky pro tax liberal. But this is just the wrong time for junk like this.

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  13. I'm a queer woman and an SFUSD educator. I say "bravo!" to the school board for passing this proposal. Queer kids have it rough, even here in SF, and this measure will certainly help, especially in terms of checking educators (yes, they're out there) who either don't intervene on queer kids' behalf or who are outright hostile to queer youth

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  14. What is the actual total budget for SFUSD. This information is astonishingly hard to come by.

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  15. I am a gay parent in SFUSD. This issue is very important, but very bad timing. Spending this $$ now will just increase the hostility of those already hostile to "gay" anything in the schools. We already have programs and policies to educate/increase awareness - but these are not implemented & there is no oversight. At my child's school, the school health program material on gay awareness/tolerance remain in a box. Teachers don't send home memos, and won't. My child has never seen a book read that featured gay families though many such books exist. Other kids tell her "having 2 Moms is weird". My child is gets a meeting with the social worker, the kids saying these things get nothing. No attempt to use the situation for education. Instead of spending more $$, how about someone request some accountability from the SFUSD staff & admin folks who "claim" to be implementing programs to increase tolerance. We need to look at what is NOT being done in the lower grades about teaching tolerance.

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  16. 12:19, I am so sorry to hear of the situation at your school. That is the opposite of our experience at Alvarado, and I have heard of good experiences at Harvey Milk, Marshall, SF Community. It seems to be spreading (in a good way). Is there any possibility of starting a rainbow family group at your school? Any allies over there among parents or teachers?

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  17. To Anon 2/17 12:53: interesting, the school I am describing is one of the ones you mention.

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  18. 12:53, I was sincere in saying I had heard good things at those places, but I am probably out of date b/c my kids are older now. I'm sorry to hear about your experience, though. Have you sought out allies among other parents, teachers, etc.? It could start with a rainbow family dinner and go from there. It is so important for our kids in LGBTQ families, and all our kids (some of whom will identify as LGBTQ) to get positive messages early about our diverse family structures.

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