Columbus school strives to create "safe spaces" for LGBTQ students


Columbus school strives to create "safe spaces" for LGBTQ students

According to Prevention Action Alliance, Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender students have a higher risk of being bullied and harassed. However, one Columbus school is doing everything it can to make sure every student feels safe and welcome.

At Columbus Gifted Academy, 36 out of the 37 classrooms have safe space signs. It was a student group initiative to make every student feel as comfortable as possible.

Eighth grader, Joe Rubel, said school should always be a welcoming place.

“Every time I walk into school, there’s kind of this feeling of relief and I know it’s going to be a good day,” said Rubel.

At Columbus Gifted Academy, 36 out of the 37 classrooms have safe space signs. It was a student group initiative to make every student feel as comfortable as possible. (WSYX/WTTE)

As part of the LGBTQ community, Rubel said he’s always felt comfortable at Columbus Gifted Academy.

“I feel like school is a place where we spend a lot of our time and I feel like if it’s a place where we’re not accepted and we can’t be ourselves, there’s no reason for us to go because we’re not thriving in this environment,” said Rubel.

To make sure every student feels safe, Rubel and other students started putting up safe space signs outside every classroom.

“We thought we would put signs up so that kids will know, this teacher will help them if they need help,” said Rubel.

A small act that’s making a big difference.

“Here it’s so accepting. I here online about kids who have been bullied and it hurts my heart. Because I’m here in a place where I’m accepted and I can thrive,” said Rubel.

At Columbus Gifted Academy, 36 out of the 37 classrooms have safe space signs. It was a student group initiative to make every student feel as comfortable as possible. (WSYX/WTTE)

Prevention Action Alliance Executive Director Marcie Seidel says LBGTQ students have a higher risk of being bullied and harassed.

“We’re finding that the young people and the pressures they have in their life include suicide. They’re more likely to be suicidal,” said Seidel. “They’re more likely to turn to substance use. They’re more likely to be depressed.”

Prevention Action Alliance said LGBTQ students who feel welcome in both their home and school life traditionally get better grades and see a decrease in depression.

Prevention Action Alliance encourages parents and teachers to consider intiating these policies to help create a safer atmosphere for LGBTQ students.

  • Policies should encourage respect for all students and prohibit bullying, harassment, and violence against all students.
  • “Safe spaces,” should be made known, such as counselors’ offices or designated classrooms, so that LGBT youth can receive support
  • from administrators, teachers, or other school staff.
  • Encourage student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment (such as gay-straight alliances or gender and sexuality alliances, which are school clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations and genders).
  • Work to ensure that health curricula or educational materials about HIV, other STI, and pregnancy-prevention include information LGBT youth find relevant.
  • Reach out to your school or district leaders to provide mandatory trainings for all staff on how to create a safe and supportive school environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Encourage your school to facilitate access to community-based providers who have experience providing health services, including HIV/STI testing and counseling, social, and psychological services to LGBT youth.

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