The advocacy office was created last spring to ensure that student voice, advocacy and equity are interwoven into all aspects of the district's work. Major focuses of the work include cultural proficiency; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) training and support; restorative practices; ethnic studies; civic collaboration and substance use prevention.
“Public education,” school superintendent Cindy Marten said, “has for decades tackled some tough issues around equity and around ensuring pathways of success for all students – LGTBQ students, students of color and those with socioeconomic challenges, language barriers or disabilities. We’re making a promise to students to deliver on equity, and it’s not just our words but our actions that will deliver on this promise.
"Right now,” Marten noted, “we are expanding the reach of the office of youth advocacy to address these tough issues and to lead a complex, coordinated and essential effort with extensive stakeholder engagement along the way. We have been working long and hard with our Safe Schools Task Force and with a number of community partners to outline needs and solutions. We are now ready to expand our implementation of these important and agreed-upon solutions in a systemic, coherent, systematic, focused effort. We will continue to work with our community agencies and partners in supporting our long-term plans.”
Highlights of the plan include changes in the 2015-16 academic year for addressing issues surrounding LGBTQ youth. They include revisions to the district’s anti-bullying awareness policy to include a training protocol for all employees and development of an electronic tool to allow for anonymous reporting of bullying;
Launch of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education (GLSEN) School Climate Survey at all secondary schools to provide benchmark data for current students and to be implemented annually thereafter;
Training for all district employees around LGTBQ issues to build understanding around and compliance with regulations and to assist with providing resources to students along with ongoing training coordinated with campus Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) student clubs and the National Equity Project (NEP) as part of the district’s instructional learning cycles; and
Participation in an “OUT for Safe Schools” initiative to address needs of students to easily identify district and school staff who are committed to providing a supportive resource for LGBTQ students.
“We are absolutely committed to providing safe, supportive and inclusive school environments for all students,” said board president Marne Foster.
Board trustee Kevin Beiser added, “I am thrilled and look forward to action plans being implemented for mandatory LGTBQ training for all staff and some of these dramatic things we are doing to support LGTBQ students, including our commitment to having a dedicated staff member focusing on LGTBQ students and improved bullying reporting procedures.”
The advocacy office provides representation in Instructional Cabinet, the San Diego UNIFIED Through Diversity Committee, the Blueprint Task Force, the Latino Advisory Committee, the Safe Schools Advisory Committee, Restorative Justice collaborative meetings, Pathways Re-Engagement team meetings, the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee and the San Diego High School Substance Use Intervention Task Force.
For additional information on the Office of Youth Advocacy, please contact Dr. R. Vernon Moore at email@example.com or (619) 260-5433.