Today marks the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day (NCOD). The annual international human rights awareness “holiday” not only celebrates those who have publicly disclosed being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), but also promotes the need for a safe environment for those who choose to come out and live openly.
Every year people, committees, and college campuses take part in celebrating NCOD in countries around the world.
Today, we bring that celebration a little closer to home—in prep for the big day, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have announced a new initiative called “Out For Safe Schools.” The collaborative will see thousands of LAUSD employees show their support as allies for LGBT students and staff.
“We want all our youth and staff to know that is it safe to be you in LAUSD,” Superintendent Dr. John Deasy told press. LAUSD has more than 655,000 students enrolled in grades K-12, and its research indicates nearly 11 percent may identify as LGBT. Additionally, 16 percent have LGBT family members.
Over 30,000 LAUSD employees—about one-third of the district’s entire staff—have already pledged to wear rainbow badges and “come out” as LGBT allies. The badges (which will feature the word “ally” written in seven languages) provide information on resources for LGBT students, but are aimed to make students feel more accepted, by acknowledging tolerance and embrace.
“It’s imperative for students in the LGBT community to know their teachers and principals support them,” said 18-year old student Abigail Hattenbrun, who left her high school due to the harsh atmosphere and is now attending an adult high school program at a community college. “You never know what kind of homes they come from—the acceptance they receive at school from the staff might be the only thing getting them through the day.”
The initiative was developed and funded by Spin, the Center’s Suicide Prevention Now Project.