When compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers, LGBTQ+ youth disproportionately suffer from a host of mental, physical and social health issues. Sexual minority youth often targets of prejudice, discrimination, and bullying in their schools, communities, and sometimes in their own home. Therefore LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience feelings of isolation, depression, and low self-esteem, increasing their risk for depression, drug use, suicide and other risky behaviors.

Our Safe School Coordinators are known throughout New Jersey for providing quality workshops on LGBTQ cultural competency, legal issues and policy, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. Below are descriptions of workshops under our Teach & Affirm Initiative. Trainings can be developed and/or tailored to your audience and time needs.

Needs Assessment

Completing a needs assessment is the first step towards making your school a more inclusive space for LGBTQ students and families. Contact us and we’ll set up a meeting, go over a brief questionnaire, and provide an initial assessment.

Policy Assistance

Garden State Equality provides consultation on federal and state law as they relate to schools and SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Gender Expression). We can share legal expertise in this area and help you develop and audit your policies.

Curriculum Workshops

Research shows that including LGBTQ people and history in your lessons is the most effective way to change school climate. We will work with educators from your district to develop and pilot LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate and in line with current state and federal education standards.

Other Speaking Engagements

Representatives from Garden State Equality are available to speak to students, as well as to parents and community members.

Professional Development Workshops

Understanding Sexuality
The first segment of this workshop helps participants understand the basics of sexuality, the terms “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual”, “transgender”, “heterosexual” among others, as well as how these categories are “defined”. The workshop begins by explaining the basic stages of sexual development regarding the general physical, cognitive and emotional events we undergo as we mature. It also discusses the four different components that make up sexuality: genetic sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

LGBTQ+ Health
Intended for social and health providers, and other youth-serving personnel, this component discusses the social, mental, physical and sexual health trends among LGBTQ+ youth.  It is aimed to make service providers aware of health issues disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ youth community.

Cultural Competency
This workshop focuses on cultural competency and helps educational, social and medical providers improve their services for the LGBTQ community (and other minority groups).  It addresses the impact of privilege and power when accessing and receiving services. The workshop also includes heterosexism and homophobia (and other phobias & isms as requested) and the various forms in which they manifest in the personal and professional realms, and how it impacts the quality of services provided. It concludes with strategies on how to create safe, inclusive spaces for the LGBT community.  

The increasing spate of suicides among LGBTQ+ teens, tweens and young adults necessitates conversations about the harmful and potentially deadly effects of bullying, especially in its 21st century incarnation of “cyberbullying”. This workshop provides youth serving personnel with an overview of  bullying, it’s forms, causes, and the emotional, mental and physical health implications on sexual minority youth. It concludes with strategies on how to create a supportive environment for all youth

Protecting LGBTQ Youth in State Care
This workshop targets staff and providers serving youth that are in state custody either through the foster care system or through juvenile detention. In addition to helping staff to understand sexuality, this workshop also addresses the risks that LGBTQ youth often face when they’re in care including physical, mental and social health issues. The workshop also discusses the legal rights of the youth and provides strategies to create a safer space for LGBT youth in state care.

#NoHaters (Anti-Bullying)
This presentation engages young people in conversations surrounding peer relationships and respect. Workshops are tailored to be age-appropriate. Students recount personal experiences as bullies and/or targets. Types of bullying are covered, as well as the mental aftermath it has on the target, such as depression, isolation, substance use and misuse, self-injury, and suicide. The goal of this presentation is to garner empathy and respect for peers.   

LGBTQ+ 101 & Sensitivity
This workshop provides a safe space for consumers to discuss and learn about LGBTQ+ identities. Workshop participants learn about the various components that make up sexuality along with issues that often affect their LGBTQ+ peers, including but not limited to depression, isolation, self-hatred, substance use, and homelessness. Time permitting, the discussion includes the ways internalized, interpersonal and institutional homophobia manifests. This workshop is intended to help start a dialogue about sexuality and sexual minorities in an attempt to empower individuals to create safer environments.

Intersections & Crossroads: (Addressing Intersectionality of Identities)
This workshop provides an opportunity for an interactive discussion surrounding the various challenges of having multiple minority identities, including but not limited to race, gender & gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, and ability. The discussion highlights the role the media and other social influences have in marginalizing vulnerable populations, even within already marginalized communities.  Discussion also covers, privilege, power, cultural appropriation, implicit bias, and micro and macro aggressions. The workshop closes with strategies on how to make schools, communities, GSAs and other spaces more inclusive of various identities, and how to celebrate diversity in more sensitive ways.

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