LAPS NEWS RELEASE
Three years ago, Los Alamos Public Schools announced its participation in GLSEN’s Safe Space Program, as part of its Healthy Schools Initiative. Since then, several groups of educators and staff across the district have participated in training to qualify as Safe Space Resources. These employees display the LAPS Safe Space logo in their workspace and serve as a point of contact for students and other staff seeking information and support.
LAPS knows that having a trusted adult either at home, at school, or in the community is one of the strongest protective factors for youth. Training adults to be more knowledgeable about the lives of LGBTQ+ people and the challenges they face assures that they know they are seen and valued and have a place to go for resources and support when needed.
Currently, about 25 district employees serve as Safe Space Resources. The pandemic has limited recent opportunities for training, but the district plans to offer the daylong training again in the coming school year.
Research conducted by GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) has found four factors that can help create an accepting environment for all students and improve the outcome for LGBTQ+ students: supportive educators, comprehensive policies, inclusive curricula, and student-led clubs, such as GSAs (Gender and Sexuality Alliances). The LAPS Safe Space Program focuses on the first factor but contributes to the ongoing development of the other three as well.
The new Safe Spaces Coordinator is Melissa Goldman, a teacher at Los Alamos High School and co-sponsor of the GSA. She adds, “Environments that are welcoming to LGBTQ+ students tend to be more responsive to all students and help foster a sense of community that supports a great diversity of identities, even beyond our LGBTQ+ umbrella.”
The LAHS GSA and LAPS Safe Schools Program will share a booth at the Los Alamos Pride Festival on Friday, June 17, starting at 4 pm in Central Park Square. Come by to make a button and pick up information or contact Melissa Goldman at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.