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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Providing a Safe and Supportive Environment for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students

Providing a Safe and Supportive Environment for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students


The mission of the North Reading Public Schools includes the charge to “provide a safe, supportive, and contemporary learning environment” for all of our students.  Recent updates to the Student Anti-discrimination Law that now include gender identity have led us to update our policies and practices in order to ensure that all students continue to be safe and supported.
In recent years our district has taken many proactive steps including creating a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Club at the high school, providing professional development for educators, and addressing the concerns for the safety and well-being of our LGBTQ students through updates to our Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.
Our P.A.U.S.E. group (Public Awareness and Understanding of Social Education) has been at the forefront of exploring the recommendations of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and how best to introduce these recommendations in our schools.  


According to the Department and Elementary and Secondary Education release:
Massachusetts has been, and continues to be a leader nationally in creating
policies and practices to support LGBTQ students. Since 1993,the partnership  
between the Department and the Commission has resulted in groundbreaking
and innovative work.  The Department remains unique in housing a statewide, 
state-supported Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and GSA Leadership 
Council. The recommendations proposed in this document continue this 
pioneering work.


On May 6, 2015 in the Distance Learning Lab at North Reading High School we will providing an opportunity for parents and the community to learn more about this topic.  Our guest presenter will be Jeff Perrotti, the Director of the Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ students, which is a joint initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth.  He is the co-author, with Kim Westheimer, of the book When the Drama Club is Not Enough.  Jeff has led countless workshops with students, staff, administrators, and has worked closely with our P.A.U.S.E. group and presented to North Reading educators during our February 6, 2015 Professional Development day.

Our hope is that many parents and educators join us on the evening of May 6th at 6:30pm to learn more about gender identity and to hear from Jeff Perrotti and his guest presenters who have truly made a difference in North Reading through their very well-received prior workshops and presentations.