Saline Area Schools and the Neutral Zone teen center present an anti-bullying program in support of the district's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 13, at Liberty School.
The event is being held to help promote a safe and healthy environment in Saline Area Schools buildings and around the the community, said Steve Laatsch, assistant superintendent of instructional services.
"We feel that it is very important to support the social and emotional health of our student body," Laatsch said. "We have been connected with the Neutral Zone for that last few years. Recently, we have connected with Riot Youth, a student organization connected with the Neutral Zone. They are able to put on a performance and lead a discussion centered around a message of anti-bullying for interested members of our community."
The community is invited to attend and learn about bullying and other issues that the LGBT population confronts. The event begins with a 30-minute student performance called "Gayrilla" in the auditorium.
Following the performance, the teens from the performance and Neutral Zone's Riot Youth Program will answer questions about bullying and what they are doing to prevent it. The event will conclude with small group discussions aimed at determining ways to combat bullying.
The Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and the exchange of ideas. Riot Youth is working to create change in the schools through policy changes, trainings of administrators, teachers and counselors on creating a safe and respectful climate and youth ally trainings.
Laatsch said the Saline Area Schools social are working working hard behind the scenes to set goals and objectives for school wellness, character building, and promoting a positive school culture.
"Our goal is to establish a longer term plan to support these objectives on an everyday basis," Laatsch said.
Here are statistics about bullying and LGBT students from antibullyingprograms.org.
Facts about School Violence and Bullying
- 24% of high school students knew of gangs at their school in 2005
- In 2005 students ages 12-18 were victims of about 628,200 violent crimes at school, including rape, aggravated assault and robbery
- Approximately 22% of urban 11 and 12 year olds know at least one person their age in a gang
- Young people who bully are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and get into fights
- The percentage of public schools experiencing one or more violent incidents increased between the 1999-2000 and 2003-2004 school years, from 71%-81%
- Teenagers say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings
- Bullying occurs most frequently in grades 6-8 with little variation between urban, suburban town, and rural areas
Sources: Centers for Disease control and Prevention, Constitutional Rights Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Justice, Indicators of School Crime and Safety:2006, U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2006, National Institutes of Health 2001
Facts about Bullying and Harassment of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth
- 65% of LGBT students report verbal harassment because of their orientation
- Adults are often uncomfortable intervening when bias is based on sexual orientation
- Unlike other forms of bullying harassment of LGBT students increases in higher grades
- Students hear anti-gay epithets 25 times a day, and teachers fail to respond to these comments 97% of the time
- 89.2% of students frequently hear “THAT’S SO GAY” OR “YOU’RE SO GAY”
- For every LGBT student that reported being harassed, 4 straight students reported being harassed because they were perceived as being gay or lesbian.
Source: Teasing and Torment Report (GLSEN 2005), National Mental Health Association 2002. Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network
Facts about Students Who Bully and are Bullied
- 60% of those characterized as bullies in grades 6-9 will have at least one criminal conviction by age 24
- Those that are bullied tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life
- 61% said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home
- 54% said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school
- Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullies by peers.
- 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month
- 100,000 students carry a gun to school each day
- 28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home, Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NICHD,
Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics-School Crime and Safety, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Departments of Education Associated Violent Deaths in the United States 1994-1999, Center of Disease Control and Prevention and U. S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2001