The Attic Youth Center Publishes “Safe Schools Toolkit” Created by LGBT Youth

Attic Youth
A screenshot of the Attic Youth toolkit, which provides a range of easy-to-use resources for teachers, students, and community groups. 

This summer, 38 youth from The Attic Youth Center’s PYN Service Learning Program worked together to make an online toolkit that represents student voices on the issues of homophobia, safety, and celebrating diversity.

These dynamic groups of students “represent gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual 9th to 12th graders, and a rainbow of race and ethnicity.” The LGBTQ Education for Awareness Recognition and Nondiscrimination toolkit is an easy-to-use resource for teachers, students and community groups that include videos, posters for classroom use, facts, research, and printable documents.

The 2012 Safe Schools Toolkit is available here.

“It is our hope that this toolkit will provide all members of the school community, from students, to teachers, to administrators with a user-friendly means to facilitate cross-cultural learning and community-building dialogue that lends itself to the development of schools as safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals,” Kelly Kroehle, Coordinator of The Bryson Institute, The Attic’s Education and training program said.

The toolkit was made with the understanding that different contexts pose different challenges for talking about LGBTQ topics in schools.  The Attic worked hard to ensure that they developed a diverse array of approaches that were usable regardless of possible barriers such as, curricular mandates or limited financial resources.

The Attic hopes that the toolkit will demonstrate the immense power of the focused energy of a group of students to create positive change in their school community.

“The toolkit is the product of an extensive, across-the-board collaboration at The Attic,” Kroehle said. “We knew going into this summer that given the central mission of The Attic to cultivate civically-minded young people, the recent and immediate experiences of the youth participants in Philadelphia high schools, and the attention currently being paid to issues of safety and support for marginalized young people in educational contexts, that our focus was to be on safe schools for LGBTQ youth.”

While there was a pre-planning process to create a loose outline of the idea as well as the bringing on of group facilitators specializing in several different fields, the content of the toolkit was born of the youth participants.

“At The Attic, we are ardent believers in the intuitive insight and creativity of our young people, and are thrilled to have witnessed them develop such a unique yet practical tool to cultivate the voices and positive educational experiences of their peers,” Kroehle said.

Kroehle added that the program was structured in such a way that each day [they] the students shared time together as a large group and then split off into targeted workgroups who would collectively create each component of the kit.

In this way, the students of the Attic were able to exchange big ideas as well as spend concentrated time building and refining each piece of the final product.

“Being a graduate from the Philadelphia school system, I saw bullying everyday,” Nicole Dieper, one of the 38 who worked on the toolkit said. “I really wanted to work with a group of people and get involved with the community and challenge myself. And I definitely did that.”

Dieper worked on the media section of the toolkit, which included a variety of different media outlets and a section called “Outseen and Outspoken.” Compiled resources for teachers to use in the classroom.

“I think that media plays an important role in society today,” Dieper said. “I love researching and thought I could put it to good use.”

On August 29th, the toolkit became available on the Attic Youth Center’s website. It is available to anyone who is interested, free of cost.

The Attic Youth Center is currently in the planning stages of an outreach effort that will partner together a team of the youth who created the toolkit with the Youth Planning Committee, their internal youth governance structure, and The Bryson Institute.

“It’s our goal to not only provide the schools with this toolkit but to be present as a live resource to assist schools in implementing its offerings,” Kroehle said  “Whether that is in the form of outreaches to local Gay Straight Alliances, a Bryson Institute training, or as a toolkit workshop, we just want to make sure it’s out there, it’s being used, and that Philadelphia’s students are safe, supported, and successful.”

“I feel as if the toolkit in itself is representative of the youth that created it — goal-oriented, diverse in its approaches, thoughtful, and fun.”

Posted by Peak Johnson on September 10, 2012

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