Sixty Marianas High School staff and educators completed a five-hour professional development last June 16 that focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in schools, especially for the LGBTQIA+ youth.
Conducted by Pride Marianas Youth and the Public School System’s Mental Health Team, the training was called “Inclusion: How Allies Can Make A Difference For LGBTQIA+ Inclusion On Campus And In The Workplace.”
Training participants explored the definition of diversity and inclusion; discussedf privilege, stereotypes, bias, prejudice, and discrimination; and learned strategies to create braver, safer and more inclusive spaces.
Discussions included eye-opening statistics of CNMI youth according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is conducted every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and PSS.
LGBTQIA+ youth report higher incidences of mental health vulnerabilities, higher rates of bullying, assault, and dating violence, feeling unsafe in school, and missing school because of not feeling safe. One such youth recently said, “We need to have a strong enough influence to change the minds of the people who have not accepted them as the ‘norm.’ We started by having Pride Month to give them the voice they need to be heard, but we need to get to a point where we don’t need just a month for them to stand proud and be themselves. We need to change the tides so that every day is a day our LGBQTQIA+ community is accepted and loved just for being themselves.”
The training participants were given “safe space” posters for classrooms and were invited to attend the remaining Pride Month activities, celebrating this year’s theme “Change the Tide, Show Your Pride.” (PR)