District, Verdant collaborate on LGBTQ awareness

Suicide statistics for gay youth 3 times higher than straight students
By Brian Soergel | Jan 03, 2018

After requests from Edmonds School District staff, students and families, the district has partnered with Verdant Health Commission to sponsor a free community event in support of LGBTQ students and their families.

It’s 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Verdant Health Center, 4710 196th St. SW, Lynnwood.

District spokeswoman Debbie Joyce Jakala said staff requested training on how to best serve all students; families want to know how to support students; and students have shared they want support and to feel included.

“Our hope with this event is to meet all of those needs and continue to foster community in our district,” Jakala said.

“In partnership with Verdant, we are working to create learning opportunities for how to best support our whole student. Supporting LGBTQ students, while attending to the needs of each and every student in our district, is our goal.”

Jakala said that the event could help participants learn more about gender diversity; listen to student and family stories; and support your student even when you don’t understand their identity.

It will include presentations by professionals working with LGBTQ youth. Some presentations will be geared toward youth, and others toward adults who support LGBTQ youth at home, in school or in the community.

Presentations will address health topics, including:

  • Supporting the behavioral health needs of LGBTQ youth and their allies, including self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and addressing stigma & homophobia;
  • Supporting the sexual health needs of LGBTQ youth and their allies including HIV prevention, STI education & testing and healthier life choices around sex; and
  • Strategies for parents/caregivers/caring adults to support the healthy development of a youth’s emotional, physical, sexual and gender identity.

“We are excited for this event,” said Sally Guzman, the district’s family engagement specialist. “It will be the first time we have invited all parties who have expressed interest to learn together. We are also very aware depression and suicide rates for our LGBTQ students are two to three times higher than that of their counterparts.”

According to Verdant spokeswoman Jennifer Piplic, data from the 2016 Department of Health survey reported that 27.2 percent of 10th-grade youth who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual attempted suicide, as compared to 8.1 percent of 10th-grade youth who identify as straight.

“We found these statistics to be alarming, and as such are supportive of programs that increase understanding of and resilience in our youth who are struggling,” said Verdant Superintendent Robin Fenn.

“The Edmonds School District community event supporting LGBTQ students and their families will play a very important role in building awareness and allowing space for safe conversations that we hope will foster the care and encouragement needed to help these youth.”

Verdant will pay up to $2,500 to the Edmonds School District for the program, which needs at least 25 participants to be held. The money could be used for written translation services, professional speakers, interpreters, childcare workers, and dinner, Piplic said.

To register, go to http://bit.ly/2AUCFa8.

 

 

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