With LGBTQ young people facing disproportionate levels of harassment at school and a lack of acceptance in their homes and communities, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation announces the launch of its Youth Well-Being Project – promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Anchored by a new national conference – Time to THRIVE – the Project will provide training, technical assistance and best practices tools for K-12 educators and youth-serving organizations of all types, including after-school enrichment programs, recreational sports leagues, summer camps, family counseling centers and job training centers.
“HRC’s research into the everyday lives of LGBT youth was a stark wakeup call,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “HRC’s new Youth Well-Being Project will give parents, educators, counselors, healthcare professionals and other service providers the resources they need to ensure that every LGBT young person can have the same chance to thrive as their straight peers.”
According to the HRC Foundation’s groundbreaking 2012 survey “Growing Up LGBT in America,” 33 percent of LGBTQ youth say their family is not accepting; LGBT youth are more than twice as likely to be verbally harassed at school; and 63 percent of LGBTQ youth say they will need to move to another part of the country to feel accepted.
When asked about their top concerns, non-LGBTQ young people named test scores, their finances, and getting into college – what some might call “normal teenage stuff.” But for the LGBTQ teens, the top three concerns were unsupportive families, bullying in school and fear of coming out. While LGBTQ youth certainly worry about grades and finances too, it’s the issues tied to their identity that weigh on them the most.
The HRC Foundation hired Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei to head the Youth Well-Being Project. Vinnie is a former middle school teacher and high school counselor. He is also the president of the California Association of School Counselors. Vinnie’s passion for creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth will lend itself well to educating others on how to better the lives of the most vulnerable of our community.
"All young people should be provided with a safe place to learn and an equitable chance to thrive,” said Vinnie Pompei. “Unfortunately, that doesn't happen automatically for those who identify or are perceived to be LGBTQ. Educators and other youth-service providers are thirsty for training and resources. I am thrilled that Time to THRIVE will provide these professionals with a ‘one-stop-shop’ opportunity to become emerging experts and change agents in their communities.”
"We know that LGBTQ youth of all backgrounds continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and rejection at home, in school, and in the community,” said Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs at the Child Welfare League of America. “We applaud HRC's efforts to address the needs and concerns of LGBTQ youth. CWLA will be a strong partner in helping to engage and educate child welfare professionals to better service LGBTQ youth."
"As school principals we all know that a safe and secure learning environment is vital to the educational success of our students,” said Denise Greene-Wilkinson, 2012-2013 President, National Association of Secondary School Principals. “When students face harassment or bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, it threatens both their personal safety and their ability to gain a valuable education. The Time to THRIVE conference offers professional development for all K-12 educators that not only addressees these issues, but delivers hands-on information designed to create an environment in which students and personnel respect and value the worth of every person within their school community."
About Time to THRIVE
Time to THRIVE is the premier national convening to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field. Time to THRIVE will take place over President’s Day Weekend, February 14-16, 2014 at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Learn more and register at www.TimeToThrive.org.