Adam Polaski

Dept. of Education Hosts First LGBT Youth Summit

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 04, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Arne Duncan, Department of Education, education policy, Kathleen Sebelius, Kevin Jennings, LGBT youth

safeschools.jpgOn Monday, June 6, the U.S. Department of Education will kick off a two-day summit about LGBT students called "Creating and Maintaining Safe and Supportive Environments for LGBT Youth." The summit, held in Washington, D.C., is designed to facilitate discussion about ways to ensure that LGBT students receive fair and equal access to education. Information will be provided to those who attend the summit, including students, teachers, and administrators, to provide solutions to the unique problems that LGBT youth confront.

The summit will include remarks from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools Kevin Jennings.

Today the Dept. of Education issued a press release about the summit.

LGBT youths are a uniquely vulnerable population in America's schools. Because they suffer at a higher rate than many of their peer groups from physical violence, bullying, anxiety, and depression, LGBT youths are more prone to exhibit high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual risk-taking, and running away from home.

The summit comes just a few days after President Obama's declaration that June is national LGBT Pride Month, marking another official approach to inclusion for members of the LGBT community.

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We might note that Kevin Jennings gets to participate in this summit in his federal capacity, by a fortunate happenstance of close timing. He has announced that [= he is leaving the Dept of Education =] and, according to the website of his new employer, he starts his new job on July 25.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 5, 2011 6:11 AM

GLBT children and younger adults are going to be in deep trouble and need the help of our communities for a long, long time.

That's because the US has more than its share of strident cult leaders, many of them dominationist, who openly call for the murder of our brothers and sisters in Uganda. And we have plenty of braying religious politicians who claim that we have no right to be married and don't deserve civil rights and protections from violence. Republicans and christian theocrats are more candidly bigoted while Democrats and 'liberal' christians have much the same policies but water them down with WH Easter Egg Rolls and Grand Proclamations listing all their fierce accomplishments (1).

The source of bigotry, harassment and violence against our youth on campuses, in the military and on the streets is the hate speech of the preachers and the coldly calculated malign neglect of the politicians. As long as hate speech - religious and political - are not robustly prosecuted they'll inevitably produce murders, beatings, suicides, the rejection of schooling, caustic internalized self-loathing, substance abuse, the inability to keep a job and prostitution. For too many, a few years of punches, being called faggot and sexual abuse can lead to a lifetime of troubles.

We have to take the lead in calling for the vigorous prosecution of hate speech and hate crimes, for the right of emancipation of LGBT children, for secularizing all religious schools and for the criminalization of cult interference in civil matters. But we have to be realistic and understand that those ideas will never be implemented in the kind of backward, priest-rabbi-pastor-imam infested society we live in.

To get to the point when we can really protect and nurture GLBT youth and young adults we have to break with the twin parties of bigotry, promote the recent trends in the AFL-CIO (2) (3) to break with Democrats and encourage them to unleash the sleeping tiger of American politics, the Labor Party. That and the creation of a massive socialist party to lead the fight for real change is the road to actual protections for GLBT youth, our collective responsibility.