I recently posted a link on Facebook to an article that discussed research showing that in schools with GSAs (Gay/Straight Alliance) “the odds of suicidal thoughts were cut in half for lesbians, gays and bisexuals. And heterosexual boys were half as likely to attempt suicide.” In other words, “Simply Having a Gay Straight Alliance Reduces Suicide Risk for All Students.” GSAs benefit everyone because they teach that every student is unique and valuable, and we can always do more to protect our students.
That’s why it was disappointing to see that in the 2019 Safe & Supportive Schools Report Card recently issued by the Equality California Institute, Ojai Unified was listed as a no-show. It’s unfortunate because accurate information and research is critical to serving our students, and to get that information requires the support and cooperation of school districts. It’s also unfortunate that we weren’t represented because I personally know the hard work OUSD dedicates to creating safe supportive schools for all students.
Yes, these surveys can be a lot of work. But when they are asking important questions, as was this one, the work is worth it. My hopes are that the next time this comes around, we will participate.
For now, I agree with what State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said: “I encourage you to use this report as a tool to advance equality in your classrooms and the health and well-being of students in your communities. District leaders, reach out to your peers who have found success in making their schools safer. Parents, teachers and students, reach out to your school administrators and elected school board members and speak up during opportunities to provide public comment. Teachers unions, PTA members and community leaders, advocate for more inclusive policies and practices in your district.”