Nadine Smith

4th Largest School District Now Protects Gender Identity

Filed By Nadine Smith | July 21, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-bullying, Equality Florida, gender identity, LGBT, Miami-Dade

EqualityFlorida.jpgMiami-Dade School District, the fourth largest in the nation, has added gender identity to their harassment and anti-bullying policy.

Equality Florida, along with members of our Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition, have worked for more than a decade to expand these vital protections while Miami remained one of the few large Florida cities without such a policy - until now.

With this latest victory, 1.55 million students representing nearly 60 percent of Florida's school population are now protected from bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity - ranking Florida fourth in the nation.

"This is a tipping point for the state, but our work continues until every school district large and small provides these vital protections," said Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida's Deputy Director.

In 2008 Equality Florida led an eight-year coalition effort to pass a statewide anti-bullying policy that resulted in the passage of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act. Since then, Equality Florida has been working with local school districts across the state, including Miami-Dade, to create policies that specifically protect students from anti-LGBT bullying.

From day No. 1 this campaign has been a broad coalition effort involving students, parents, teachers, and grassroots organizations.

"The PTA has long recognized the importance of protecting all children including our LGBT students," Karen Rivo, past Health and Safety Chair of Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs, said. "We're proud to have partnered for years with Equality Florida, and we're proud of the role we played in pushing these new protections forward."

Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL Florida Regional Director, also responded: "For many years the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Equality Florida have partnered to protect all students from bullying. As a national leader in countering bias and bullying, we have consistently advocated inclusion of enumerated personal characteristics to truly protect all students. As such, we are extremely pleased and commend the Miami-Dade School Board for adding gender identity to its anti-harassment policy."

In addition to working closely with the more than 30 organizations that make up our Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition, Equality Florida has also been on the ground in Miami-Dade schools, training students to lead Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) and training their adult GSA advisors. Currently, nearly 40 Miami-Dade GSAs are part of our Florida GSA Network, one of the fastest growing state networks in the nation.

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That is a great achievement, wonderful progress toward the protection of LGBT youth. Now, if only Hannepin School District in Minn. would get wind of this program and follow suit. Too many LGBT youth have died because the authorities sat there like 3 monkeys w/ their hands over their mouths, ears, and eyes. Save our youth!!

Congratulations! Such great news. Do you know anything about the Top 3 largest districts? Do they also protect gender identity?

We truly need to celebrate the fact that we are paving the way and building a strong foundation for future generations of LGBTQ-people. While advancing LGBTQ-equality in Florida's legislature seems to be hopeless, we must embrace local governments and school boards that recognize the need to end social injustice.