Two teachers from the Sebastian River Middle School, Sebastian Florida recently said that in last two years things have changed dramatically. “I sometimes can’t tell a boy from a girl and sometimes when I address a boy or girl he/she says his/her name is now a different boy or girl’s name.”
LGBTQ+ depression is a suicide threat. Its needs should be addressed in our community and in our schools.
In a conference with the Mental Health Association COO Angela Guzenski and CEO Dr. Nicholas Coppola, Sergio Mota, Vero Communiqué Board Member, and publisher Thomas Hardy, expressed their desire to help develop programs to assist the community at large and the School District with LGBTQ+ issues and safe spaces. Ms. Guzenski and Dr. Copploa both indicated LGBTQ issues in the school system were high on their agenda.
“I am so worried about student suicides,” said Dr. Coppola.
Here are statistics from the 2019 National School Climate Survey: GLSEN’s eleventh national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth. It is a crucial tool in GLSEN’s mission for fighting anti-LGBTQ bias in K-12 schools across the nation.
GLDEN is concerned that LGBTQ students are treated poorly, and often get no support. The GLSEN climate survey, in its 20th year, indicated:
– 86% of Florida LGBTQ students reported regularly hearing homophobic remarks in school, and 74% reported regularly hearing negative remarks about transgender people.
– 74% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation, and 61% experienced verbal harassment at school based on gender expression.
– Most LGBTQ students never reported incidents of school victimization to school staff (59%) and only 25% of those who reported incidents said it resulted in effective staff intervention.
– Only 8% of LGBTQ students attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy that included specific protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, suicide is the third leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24 in the United States. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in grades 7-12 are twice as likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
Here in the Treasure Coast those seeking wanting a safe space to relax and discuss common issues need to travel to Orlando or Miami to find official centers. Otherwise their only outlet is bars. What if you have no transportation to get to a bar or you are not of drinking age?
Note the map above where there is an absence of an official Safe Space in the Treasure Coast.
Vero Communiqué is advocating for a LGBTQ+ Safe Space in the Treasure Coast for adults who can drive there, and more importantly, for middle and high school students who needs safe spaces in their schools.
[The + that is usually included after the acronym encompasses a list of other identities that fall under the queer umbrella.]
A Safe Space:
* Serves as a sanctuary/Safe Space for LGBTQ people.
* Provide programs and services that empower, educate, and entertain the LGBTQ community, and to strengthen the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being of LGBTQ people through these programs and services.
* Build strategic alliances for the purpose of increasing influence, improving communication and strengthening relationships between the LGBTQ community and the broader public.
Key Components of a LGBTQ Center:
Awareness– While the Indian River County commission has announced the creation of Pride Month in Indian River County thanks to A1A https://veropride.com/about/, How does the center identify individuals who need their services? Attendance is needed at Indian River County Government meeting, the Homeless Coalition, Rotary Clubs, Taxpayers Association etc.
Wellness– A Safe Space needs a partnership with the Mental Health Collaborative where volunteers who are trained in Mental Health come to the center and provide one on one counseling services.
Employment- Develop a partnership with local chamber of commerce centers in Indian River County along with Indian River State College in the creation of a job board.
Youth Development- The initiation of three High School Queer Student Unions (Sebastian, Vero, and Charter High School).
According to the Arcusfoundation.org, two days after the June 12, 2016, massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Marco Quiroga was on a plane back to the central Florida city where he grew up.
“The shooting felt like that safe space was robbed from me,” says Quiroga, who in August of the same year helped to establish the Contigo Fund, a project of Our Fund, to channel donations for medical and legal services to the families of the 49 people killed and more than 50 injured or affected.
“Pulse was the first place I took my sister when I came out as queer. It was the sanctuary I went to when I was homeless as an undocumented person who couldn’t get into shelter. It was a place where I could feel safe.”
When someone visits a Treasure Coast Indian River LGBTQ Center they would be greeted with a friendly smile and asked to fill out an intake sheet where they can write down their information along with the problem that they are currently facing. After the prospective client fills out the intake form they will be given information, depending on the perspective need.