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Making Schools Safer for Gay Students

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  • New report with recommendations and model legislation
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  • LGBT Students Harassed At Colleges Nationwide, New Report Says
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  • Anti-gay group organizes in Anoka-Hennepin (MN) schools as community deals with gay suicides
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Cathy Renna

A new report documents the persistence of hostile and unsafe school environments that can result in lower educational outcomes and higher rates of depression and suicide for LGBT students.

The report, Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation, contains a series of key policy recommendations to ensure schools are welcoming and safe for LGBT students. These recommendations cover areas such as school climate, curriculum, and the particular role of school sports in defining a school’s culture.

The report also contains model legislation for state legislatures to adopt, including general prohibitions against bullying, harassment, intimidation in schools, and sections addressing teacher education and professional development.  "The addition of a Model State Code to the analysis and recommendations in the report will encourage state legislatures to adopt a comprehensive and tested set of statutes to help remedy the problems of discrimination in our schools," said report co-author Sheila Kuehl, a former State Senator from California.

The overarching purpose of all recommendations from the report is to make schools safe and improve the quality of life for everyone within our education system. “In this area, educators are not required to change their personal values or religious beliefs,” said Stuart Biegel, author of a new book on the subject. “However, all students must be treated with equal dignity and equal respect by school officials, both under the law and as a matter of morality and common decency.”

Jointly released by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Education, the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, the report is being formally release today at the National Education Association (NEA) headquarters.

The full report is available here.

Related:

LGBT Students Harassed At Colleges Nationwide, New Report Says, Huffington Post

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  • Unequivocally, the 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People demonstrates that LGBTQ students, faculty and staff experience a 'chilly' campus climate of harassment and far less than welcoming campus communities.
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  • Anti-gay group organizes in Anoka-Hennepin (MN) schools as community deals with gay suicides
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Anti-gay group organizes in Anoka-Hennepin (MN) schools as community deals with gay suicides, Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent
“Well, news flash: There are homosexual people all over the world. Having your kid meet a homosexual in school and possibly even having a nice conversation with one isn’t going to turn your kid into one.” --Tammy Aaberg

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Merit Pay Has No Effect on Teacher Quality

Let’s put Q Comp out of its misery once and for all. Let’s keep its mentoring, collaboration and curriculum development aspects and dump the merit pay and salary revisions. Then it might become a viable program.

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John Fitzgerald, Minnesota 2020

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It’s gratifying when other research backs up what we have been saying all along: Merit pay has no effect on teacher quality.

Education Week published a story Tuesday (Sep 21) headlined “Merit Pay Found to Have Little Effect on Achievement.” Here’s the first paragraph:

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“The most rigorous study of performance-based teacher compensation ever conducted in the United States shows that a nationally watched bonus-pay system had no overall impact on student achievement — results released today that are certain to set off a firestorm of debate.”

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While I don’t know about the “firestorm of debate,” it seems clear that what we have always said is true: Teaching is a profession, not a trade or a clock-punching job. Teachers get into the profession because they love to teach. They have bills just like the rest of us and they want a sound retirement like the rest of us, therefore they worry about money just like the rest of us.

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Lady Gaga a danger to the mental health of her fans?

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  • Pop music superstar Lady Gaga appears to have crossed the line into a world of necro-inspired insanity. Yet she's worshipped by children and teens (and quite a few adults) who listen to her music. Here's why she could be dangerous to their mental health.
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  • Seriously. This is the stuff your teenage kids are piping into their brains through their iPods, by the way.
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  • Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline
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Mike Adams, NaturalNews.com

If you've ever wondered about the true mental sickness of the entertainment industry, look no further than Lady Gaga. She rose to fame and has become a teen favorite by pumping out tunes like "Love Game" where she belts out lines such as "Let's have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick."

Seriously. This is the stuff your teenage kids are piping into their brains through their iPods, by the way.

And that's just the beginning: Lady Gaga is also largely responsible for the new craze of wearing "dilated pupil contact lenses" which make young girls appear to be either sexually aroused or stoned. These contact lenses are potentially dangerous, and they are being brought into the U.S. illegally, bypassing FDA approval. But thanks to Lady Gaga, young girls are increasingly interested in wearing them so they, too, can look "aroused and stoned" in order to arouse potential sex partners.

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Related:

Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline, Sarah Jaffe,  AlterNet
We have made monsters out of others in order to kill them without fear. Gaga makes herself a monster to try to show us ourselves.

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Texas Textbook Massacre: State Board Suggests Books 'Tainted' With 'Pro-Islamic, Anti-Christian Distortions'

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  • Kathy Miller, a spokeswoman for the religious-liberty group Texas Freedom Network, said, "This is another example of board members putting politics ahead of just educating our kids," Miller said. "Once again, without consulting any real experts, the board's politicians are manufacturing a bogus controversy."
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  • Texas Board of Education Wants to Change History
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Associated Press/Huffington Post

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The Texas State Board of Education is expected to consider next week (Sep 19-25) a measure that would prohibit textbooks from pushing Islam over Christianity, as they claim has happened in the past.

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The Dallas Morning News reports:

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A preliminary draft of the resolution states that "diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts" across the U.S. and that past social studies textbooks in Texas also have been "tainted" with pro-Islamic, anti-Christian views.

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The resolution cites examples in past world history books -- no longer used in Texas schools -- that devoted far more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than to Christian beliefs and practices.

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Texas Board of Education Wants to Change History, Lauri Lebo, Religion Dispatches
Texas is the second largest purchaser of textbooks in the country. If conservative Christians on the Texas Board of Ed panel prevail in their wish to leave Ann Hutchinson (trouble maker!), Cesar Chavez, and Thurgood Marshall out of the social studies curriculum, all US schools could be affected.

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Reducing Student Poverty in the Classroom

School-Based Antipoverty Strategies the Federal Government Can Learn From and Act On

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Schools are ideal locations for social programs because they have unparalleled access to poor students and their families—they are located in the neighborhoods in which families live, are recognized and familiar community institutions, and have established relationships with low-income students and their families. Source: AP/Eric Gay

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Saba Bireda , Joy Moses, Center for American Progress

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Since the time when the most pressing problem facing educators was pigtails being dunked in inkwells, the American school house has maintained a tradition of delivering the 3 Rs—reading, ‘riting, and ’rithmatic. Those halcyon days, if they ever existed, are long past. Today’s educators face a myriad of concerns including the high concentrations of poverty that limit opportunities for young Americans to succeed in too many of our schools. That’s why the American school house must play a critical role in addressing at least one more R—reducing the negative consequences of poverty by becoming a central component of federal, state and local antipoverty strategies.

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Schools that are educating high numbers of disadvantaged students must employ innovative strategies to promote academic achievement. Many of these strategies are what we believe have a direct impact on student learning, such as offering incentives to recruit and retain highly effective teachers, implementing challenging yet accessible curriculum, and providing additional learning opportunities beyond the traditional school day. Yet it is just as important to address outside-school influences, specifically poverty that can also significantly impact student achievement and success.

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Related:

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Read the full report (pdf)

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Download the executive summary (pdf)

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Download to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd

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