school safety

Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat April 20, 2013

Strange Fruit: Kentucky Schools Unsafe for LGBTQ Students

Credit GLSEN.org

Did you feel safe in middle and high school? Were you ever physically harassed, or even assaulted, because of your LGBTQ identity? A report released last month by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) confirms what many of us already knew: Kentucky schools are often hostile and unsafe for LGBTQ students.

The study is called School Climate in Kentucky (PDF), and the results show lots of work still needs to be done. For example, 9 out of 10 students in the Commonwealth say they regularly hear anti-gay slurs in school. 36% report regularly hearing that language from school staff members.

Nearly 6 in 1o students were physically harassed (like being pushed or shoved), and 3 in 10 were physically assaulted (like being punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon) because of their LGBTQ status or gender presentation. 

So instead of just rattling off numbers and feeling disheartened, we decided to speak to the folks who compiled the research. Mark Bartkiewicz is a GLSEN researcher who worked on the state reports, and he joined us by phone this week to talk about the results, how Kentucky's numbers compare to other states, and what can be done to help (spoiler alert: it's gay/straight student alliances and enlightened faculty members).

We also spoke more this week about the closet door in professional sports (for people who know next to nothing about them, we sure do talk about them a lot). This week, NCAA breakout star & top WNBA draft pick Brittney Griner came out of the closet. "I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that," she told Sports Illustrated in an interview. "I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's ok, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."

Who doesn't feel the same way? Male professional athletes, it would seem. In fact, this same week, NFL player and University of Louisville alumnus Kerry Rhodes has been the target of gay rumors after MediaTakeOut.com released pictures of him looking affectionate with another man while on vacation (they helpfully illustrated the story with an NFL logo in which the football has been covered in pink sequins).

Rhodes told The Advocate that he's not gay, but he's an ally. "I know a lot of people are recently talking about athletes struggling to come out to their fans right now," he said, "and I support them, as well as wish those individuals comfort." It seems like the world is waiting for an actively-playing male athlete to come out, so in our Juicy Fruit and closing thoughts segments this week, we did some unpacking of the situation. How do sexual politics play out in the hyper-masculine culture of pro sports (especially football), and why is it so very different for women athletes than men? 

Local News
2:47 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Stripped-Down School Safety Bill Clears Indiana House

The Indiana House of Representatives has approved the creation of a state grant program to help school districts hire police officers and buy safety equipment.

Lawmakers removed a provision that would have required all public schools to have a gun-carrying employee on site during school hours.

That amendment from Republican Rep. Jim Lucas was taken out after concerns were raised about training standards and the safety of having non-police officers carrying guns in schools.

The bill now calls for the issue to be taken up by a study committee this summer.  

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Education
3:03 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

School Safety Bill Clears Indiana Senate Panel

Indiana lawmakers say they hope to improve security at schools around the state by offering grants toward hiring police officers and buying safety equipment.

A bill approved today by a state Senate committee would set up a two-year matching grant program allowing schools up to $50,000 a year. Bill sponsor Sen. Pete Miller says he hopes $10 million a year will be set aside for the program, so that 200 grants could be awarded.

"This is a first step toward school safety," Miller told the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

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Education
3:29 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Police, JCPS Say Prevention and Participation Are Key to School Safety

Credit File photo

In the wake of last year’s mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., school safety has been a resounding issue in many communities. 

Kentuckiana school districts are among them and while some schools have improved school security, local leaders say the effort will require community involvement.

On December 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza went on a killing spree leaving 20 students and six adults dead. Since then state and congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been pressured to reconsider gun laws.

But how has been up for debate.

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