Students can spend up to ten hours at school each day, so creating a culture that provides resources for youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ is the goal behind the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and Resource center initiative OUT for Safe Schools (OFSS). Along with Toyota’s past two grants totaling $25,000, a recent $50,000 grant from the Jonesville Foundation will help Resource Center significantly further its mission of making sure every middle and high school student feels safe and respected while at school. According to the Jonesville Foundation, “The work Resource Center is doing is very important and we are honored for the opportunity to support it.”
OFSS is a national campaign that helps educators, administrators, and other school employees “come out” as visible allies for LGBTQIA+ students and staff. The OFSS badge is designed as a way of identifying a mobile, human safe space. This visual display of support lets LGBTQIA+ students know that “safe spaces” are not limited to the classroom but extend to anywhere an adult is wearing the badge. This extends the reach of the OFSS Campaign to areas where most incidents of victimization occur: on the playground or bus, during lunchtime, and in school hallways. Resource Center partnered with DISD to implement the OFSS campaign in 82 middle and high schools starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
Feedback from DISD faculty and staff includes: “The most beneficial aspect of OFSS training was learning about the available organizations and resources that serve LGBTQIA+ youth,” and “this training should be required of all DISD employees.”
In fall 2019, DISD liaison and Center supporter Mahohanie Gaston was appointed to the Support Services Coordinator position for LGBTQIA+ Youth in order to expedite the implementation of both OFSS and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) networks in DISD. One of her main objectives is to establish GSAs at every single DISD high school by the end of the school year. Mahoganie says, “The Center has been an outstanding partner with DISD on making schools safer for LGBTQIA+ students. The teachers and staff members who have gone through the OFSS training have found it valuable in providing resources, tips and strategies to benefit our students.”
For more information about the OUT For Safe Schools program, contact the Center’s Advocacy and Communication Manager Rafael McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org