Sunday, March 26, 2006

Response to "Hatred in the Halls"

From a news release I received on Friday...
As a follow-up to the unfortunate incident of theft and vandalism at Palo Alto High School in January, a community coalition has joined forces to address hate and intolerance in Palo Alto. Outlet is a proud co-sponsor of the following event:

What: "Building a Culture of Service, Respect, and Identity Safety", a panel discussion for parents, students, educators and community members

When: Monday, March 27, 2006, 7:00-9:00p.m.

Where: Palo Alto Unified School District Board Room, Palo Alto, CA

The Palo Alto community is mobilizing against an unacceptable level of intolerance within its city limits. Responding to reports of anti-gay harassment, racial slurs, destruction of Gay-Straight Alliance club posters, and the January 2006 incident of theft and homophobic vandalism at Palo Alto High School, local leaders and students are launching a "NOT IN OUR SCHOOL/NOT IN OUR TOWN" campaign to reinforce safety and respect for all members of the community.

The campaign will begin on March 27, 2006 with a town hall meeting and panel discussion hosted by Youth Community Service, and moderated by Shannon Turk of Outlet. Entitled, "Building a Culture of Service, Respect, and Identity Safety", the panel will discuss the roles parents and community members can play in encouraging respect for diversity and promoting safety for all.

Running through May 2006, the "NOT IN OUR SCHOOL/NOT IN OUR TOWN" campaign strives to affirm identity safety-the validation for all to feel safe to be themselves-and to combat hate of any kind, including racism, homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance.

The coalition is comprised of the City of Palo Alto Human Relations Committee, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), the PAUSD PTA Council, the Stanford Center for Ethics in Society, the Outlet Program, Youth Community Service, and Gay Straight Alliance Clubs in Palo Alto schools. These leaders encourage others to join them in raising awareness, building an accepting civic culture, and creating opportunities to take a stand against hate, violence, and intolerance, by participating in campaign events, displaying campaign buttons, and exhibiting campaign posters in homes, schools, businesses, and organizations throughout our community.

The Outlet program is the only program of its kind in the Mid-Peninsula working to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth and cultivating leaders to eradicate homophobia. Since 1997, Outlet has served over 6,000 queer youth, straight allies, and youth service providers through peer and community support, mentoring, leadership development, advocacy, sensitivity workshops and educational trainings.

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