Three-Year Initiative to Focus on Model Policies to Ensure Schools are Safe for All Students

Austin, Texas – (January 8, 2008) – Equality Texas Foundation has been awarded a three-year grant to support its Safe Schools Initiative, a multi-year program to secure adoption by Texas public schools of model policies that address the prevention, intervention, and elimination of bullying and harassment.

The $110,000 grant is being provided by the Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund, a philanthropic partnership that includes the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Gill Foundation, and anonymous donors.

The statewide Initiative will focus on four areas:

(i) The Texas Safe Schools Coalition will be a forum to identify the most effective ways to work within school districts to reduce incidents of bullying and harassment in Texas schools. Coalition members will share strategies and programs that have proven to positively affect campus environment;

(ii) An independent report will document the status of bullying and harassment in Texas schools and the effect of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s) on school environment and educational outcomes;

(iii) Community Education Forums will enable counselors, students, administrators, and experts to raise public awareness of the effects of bullying and harassment on all students; how school policies and programs can positively affect the school environment; and best practices for the prevention and reporting of bullying incidents; and

(iv) Support will be provided for the development of the Texas GSA Network, a program of Out Youth, as a resource for leadership development and sustainability of Gay-Straight Alliances across Texas.

Statement of Paul Scott, Equality Texas Foundation Executive Director:

“Equality Texas Foundation is extremely grateful for the support of the Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund for our Safe Schools Initiative. We are committed to developing a statewide program that will provide the public awareness, policy development and leadership needed to ensure that Texas schools are safe learning environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. We are equally grateful for Tides Foundation’s support of our partnership with Out Youth for the development of the Texas GSA Network. Studies in other states have linked Gay-Straight Alliances to improved educational outcomes.”

The partnership between Equality Texas Foundation and Out Youth will result in almost $53,000 being re-granted to Out Youth over the three-year period for development of the Texas GSA Network.

Statement of Matt Smith, Out Youth Executive Director:

“With this funding, Out Youth will build the Texas GSA Network’s infrastructure and activities to support GSA leaders statewide. We see this program in terms of leadership. The youth organizing Gay-Straight Alliances across the state are showing leadership, working to change their schools and communities for the better. We want to support and encourage this leadership with trainings, resources, and a statewide community by and for the GSA leaders of Texas.”

Equality Texas Foundation works to educate the public as to how policies regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression affect the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Texans.

Out Youth’s mission is to promote the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of sexual minority youth so that they can openly and safely explore and affirm their identities.