Los Alamos Public Schools Healthy Schools Initiative Director Kristine Coblentz, right, and Trey Pereyra show LAPS Pride. Courtesy photo
BY KELLY DOLEJSI
Los Alamos Pride
Los Alamos Public Schools is committed to becoming a more welcoming district that is responsive to and inclusive of people of all backgrounds and identities, said LAPS Healthy Schools Director Kristine Coblentz.
“Learning more about how to create safe learning and working environments for LGBTQ+ students and staff is a crucial part of this effort,” she said.
Coblentz, LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy, and Prevention Support Specialist Brandi Seekins, have been supporting LAPS’ Safe Space Initiative, which provides training for school staff to serve as Safe Space Resource People.
Training, in which more than 30 LAPS staff members have participated, includes a review of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the support they provide for LGBTQ students and educators; understanding the importance of language; understanding the importance of and how to intervene in support of LGBTQ students; understanding the Safe Schools for All Students Act; and a review of statistics about LGBTQ experiences.
Statistics provided by the NM Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, show trans, genderqueer, and gender fluid youth more at risk for unstable housing, cigarette smoking, heroin use, alcohol use, forced sex, bullying, and suicide when compared with their cisgender peers.
GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey found 66 percent of LGBTQ+ students in New Mexico had experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation, and 54 percent based on their gender expression or identity. High percentages of students were also physically harassed or assaulted, prevented from using the bathroom aligned with their gender, prevented from participating in sports, prevented from using their chosen name and pronouns in school, and disciplined for expressing affection in public (while their non-LGBTQ+ peers were not disciplined for similar behaviors).