Chancellor Fariña Calls for Schools to Talk about LGBT Youth


Chancellor Fariña being sworn in at an education committee hearing. (Photo by William Alatriste)

Last month, the new chairman of the City Council’s Education Committee, Council Member Daniel Dromm, held a hearing on the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, families and staff in New York City schools. We commend Council Member Dromm for bringing attention to this important issue so early in the new Council’s term. As a proud supporter of PFLAG, co-founder of PFLAG Queens, and the first New York City public school teacher to come out publicly as gay, Council Member Dromm knows deeply and personally how this issue touches our families and loved ones.

In follow-up to the Education Committee hearing, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña took the impressive step of highlighting the treatment of LGBT youth and adults in the Principals’ Weekly bulletin. She wrote a letter that has been widely distributed in the schools, and she highlighted the new policy on transgender youth and the Respect for All Program, which PFLAG NYC has been part of from its inception. The full text of the letter is below.

For PFLAG NYC, we were impressed that the Chancellor called on all schools to implement lessons and small group discussions encouraging an understanding of LGBT students and peers. That is just the kind of conversation promoted by our Safe Schools Program, and we are already following up on the Chancellor’s call to offer our program to schools throughout the city. This week, we sent the Chancellor’s letter to more than a thousand of our school contacts and will be following up to bring the Safe Schools Program to as many schools as we can before the end of the year.

Protecting our young people is so important our Safe Schools Program is always free to schools. If you’re interested in learning more about bringing the program to your school or about becoming a Safe Schools Program volunteer, send us an email at safeschools@pflagnyc.org.

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm and I attended a City Council hearing on the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, families, and staff in our public schools. We heard testimony from some remarkable young people who spoke movingly about their isolation and their determination to create an atmosphere of acceptance for themselves and their families. I thank Education Chair Daniel Dromm for inviting us to address this critical issue.

Young people face a variety of experiences that contribute positively and negatively to their participation in school each day, and we play a key role in providing them with the support they need to feel safe and included.

I encourage you and your staff to implement lessons and small group discussions that offer students – especially those in middle and high school – the opportunity to gain insight on and sensitivity toward the experience of their LGBT peers. Each student plays a vital role in making all of their classmates feel that they are valued and respected members of the school community. I also encourage you and your staff members to make use of the many resources available to you on the Respect for All Library and to review our & Policies - New York City Department of Education">new policy to support transgender youth.

Creating an inclusive school environment ensures that our students can thrive personally and academically – thank you for all of your support with this shared goal.

Best,
 
Carmen Fariña
Chancellor