For every student and parent, school should feel like a safe place to learn, grow, and succeed. But this isn’t the case for everyone, especially LGBTQ students.
Unfortunately, according to a 2007 survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 86% of LGBTQ students reported experiencing harassment at school, three-fifths of students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and one-third had skipped school because of feeling unsafe. Furthermore, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, a startling number considering only 3% of the national population identifies as LGBTQ. All of these factors put LGBTQ youth at a greater risk of dropping out of high school.
Opportunities For Learning is trying to change that. All OFL centers are designed to foster an environment of acceptance in which all students feel free to openly and honestly express themselves, free from prejudice and violence. OFL has a zero-bullying policy that ensures all students feel safe, and the curriculum is designed to instill a global perspective of acceptance and desire for social justice.
In 2010, Opportunities For Learning took its inclusive educational approach a step further, partnering with Lifeworks, a mentoring program for LGBTQ youth sponsored by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood, to open a school dedicated to providing LGBTQ students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma in a safe, non-traditional learning environment. LGBTQ students at the OFL Hollywood center are encouraged to take advantage of OFL’s unique academic and social/emotional learning resources.
If you identify as LGBTQ, below are a few resources that you may find helpful:
LifeWorks – Youth development and mentoring program of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center
The OUTreach Center (Antelope Valley)
The Trevor Project – Provides crisis intervention for LGBTQ young people, including the Trevor Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline staffed by trained counselors for LGBTQ youth who are in need of help
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