"Incredible students. “Amazing presentation. “The best teacher workshop I have ever attended.” These are just a few of the accolades that teachers and counselors had for Safe Schools South Florida (formerly GLSEN South Florida) and its innovative workshop series, "School Safety & Sexual Minority Issues" held recently at Coral Gables Congregational Church, across from the Biltmore Hotel.
"As education professionals, we know what works best to make a difference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students in schools," said Robert Loupo, national board certified teacher and school counselor, as well as co-founder and executive director of Safe Schools South Florida. "And our evaluation and research proves it: our work makes huge differences in attitudes and behaviors in schools."
Additional benefits accrue to the students who are an integral part of each workshop: "I really feel so empowered telling adults my story," said Afework Afework, a Safe Schools South Florida student speaker panelist. "Each time I speak, it not only helps teachers and counselors learn about what LGBTQ students go through, it helps me understand what I have had to go through also."
"We are so pleased to be able to support Safe Schools South Florida in their mission to make schools safer for all students," stated Dr. Laurie Hafner, senior pastor at Coral Gables Congregational Church and former advisory board member of GLSEN Cleveland. "Our church is an open and affirming church for the LGBTQ community, and we can think of no better way to show our support that to offer workshop space here at our church."
Safe Schools South Florida, whose mission is teaching respect for LGBTQ youth in schools, will soon launch a $100,000 matching grant, sponsored by board president, publisher and philanthropist Bruce Presley.
"I have watched the incredible work of this organization for 8 years, and see the vast difference they make for students in schools. I want to support them in every way I can. I hope others will, too."
For more information about Safe Schools South Florida, visit them at www.safeschoolssouthflorida.org
Photo: Robert Loupo, co-founder and executive director of Safe Schools South Florida (left), joins the student panelists Jessica Cohn-Kleinberg, Afework Afework and Arielle Deakter at workshop at Coral Gables Congregational Church.