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About Face Youth 'Speak Out'
2003-04-01

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About Face Youth Theatre, using a grant from The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Foundation, interviewed youth about their experience of being GLBTQ in today's society. Their groundbreaking report, Youth Speak Out: Safe Schools booklet, by youth and for youth and adults, was released at a public event at Thousand Waves. Report co-writers Tony Alvarado-Rivera and Brenna Conley-Fonda ( right two people ) are pictured with youth who read aloud from the passionate stories at the event, from left: Ryan Inton, Dan Rymer, Andy Hunt and Rohan Barrett. Photo by Tracy Baim

Now in its Fifth Anniversary Season, AFYT invited teachers, school administrators and others to hear excerpts from the Safe Schools project, which involved more than a year interviewing GLBTQ youth about their lives.

This is believed to be the first project of its kind generated by youth, and intended for both youth and adults as a learning tool.

'Echoing the findings of The National Mental Health Association, GLSEN, and The Human Rights Watch, the report affirms that a high percentage of youth who identify as, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning do not feel safe in their schools and communities, and are targeted both verbally and physically,' AFYT stated.

The 28-page booklet also includes a 'Call to Action' for educators, policy advocates and adult allies to take a stand and make a change in their schools and communities. AFYT youth researchers and writers Tony Alvarado-Rivera, Brenna Conley-Fonda, and Charlie Morris led the development of the report with assistance from AFYT Artistic Associate Julia Fabris.

The survey found that 75 percent of those interviewed reported that they had been harassed or discriminated against at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Of those who reported the harassment or discrimination, 25 percent said they experienced physical abuse at the hands of schoolmates.

Asked how schools could better serve GLBTQ youth, 25 percent said gay history, literature, health and sexuality should be integrated into curricula. Another 25 percent thought teachers, peers and parents should be more tolerant and accepting. Twenty percent believe anti-discrimination policies must be implemented. Fifteen percent said teachers and faculty need to be better trained on the issue. And 14 percent believe there should be more support groups and/or discussion groups for GLBT youth.

AFYT will perform their fifth anniversary production at the Tony Award-winning Goodman theatre, opening mid-July. Call ( 773 ) 784-8565.


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