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Student Support, Career & Education Services

Technical Assistance on Building Safe and Supportive School Environments

To:Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, and Principals
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Julian Cyr, Chair, Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth
Date:November 18, 2013

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The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) has collaborated with the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth 1 (Commission), since 1993 to create safe and supportive learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. All students need a safe and supportive school environment in order to learn. Administrators, faculty, staff, and students play an important part in creating and sustaining that environment.

The Department and the Commission recently entered into an agreement to house Commission staff and consultants supporting the Safe Schools Program for LGBT Students with Department staff in Malden. Through this partnership, we expect to increase capacity to provide technical assistance and professional development to public schools related to: efforts to build safe and supportive environments for LGBT students; meeting the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming students; the implementation of related suicide, violence, and bullying prevention efforts; and the reduction of health disparities for LGBT youth. These services are intended to help school and district administrators take steps to create a culture in which all students feel safe, supported, and included, and to meet each school's obligation to provide equal educational opportunities for all students.

In order to facilitate communication, we are requesting that each school district appoint at least one contact person who will serve as a liaison to the Department concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. This person may be the same person whom you have designated to be the contact for your anti-bullying efforts. We also ask that each school district identify existing advisors of Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs).

Please send the name and contact information of your liaison(s), GSA advisor(s), and any requests for technical assistance to safeschoolsprogram@doe.mass.edu.

Attached is information about state laws and policies regarding LGBT students, including further information about the recently amended Massachusetts anti-bullying law.

Thank you for your continued commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for all students. We are proud that Massachusetts is a leader in this regard and that there have been significant improvements in the past 20 years. We look forward to working with you to create and sustain safe and supportive schools.

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Last Updated: November 18, 2013
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