New GLSEN chapter aims to make N. Texas schools safer

Posted on 15 Mar 2012 at 6:26pm

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Greater Dallas to help implement anti-bullying policies, bring GSAs to more campuses

Tate.James

INTERNSHIP HITS HOME | James Tate worked as an intern at the GLSEN public policy office in Washington, D.C. Since returning to Dallas to finish his master’s degree at UT Dallas, he’s worked for 14 months to re-establish a Greater Dallas chapter of the national organization.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

James Tate has been working for 14 months to re-establish a North Texas chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Last month GLSEN Greater Dallas was chartered by the national office in New York.

While all GLSEN chapters work within the national organization’s mission, each chapter has a different list of projects that support, educate or train youth, teachers or administrators within local schools.

“We built a steering committee,” he said, “and assessed the needs in this city.”

Tate said he hopes to work with school districts throughout North Texas to implement anti-bullying policies, as well as help students create GSAs in schools that still don’t have those student organizations.

Tate returned to Dallas to finish his master’s degree in social domestic policy at UT Dallas after spending a semester in Washington, D.C. where he worked as an intern at the GLSEN public policy office.

When he got back to Dallas, he found that the former GLSEN chapter had folded so he began recruiting to build a board and reapply for certification with the national office.

“Katie Patrick is treasurer and the only person affiliated with the previous chapter,” he said. “She brings all the history and is a wealth of knowledge.”

Another board member is Pam Hancock, who is working on a doctorate at UT Arlington. As a youth, she was involved with a California chapter.

Tate said GLSEN isn’t in competition with area Gay Straight Alliances or groups like Youth First Texas. Rather he sees his group as supplementing and supporting those groups.

“We do training in schools with intervention specialists,” he said. “And we’re a local chapter of a national organization that has amazing resources.”

Tate said he wants to see GSAs flourish in North Texas schools.

Only 11 of Dallas Independent School District’s 39 high schools have GSAs, he said, and he would like to see that number increase. Outside the city, the need is even greater.

Local college students, he said, could be very helpful in mentoring students in area high schools starting new GSAs.

The revitalized chapter took a new name.

“It was very important to me to rename the chapter GLSEN Greater Dallas because we’re serving the Metroplex,” he said.

Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable said his city’s anti-bullying campaign will roll out in October with the help of the new GLSEN chapter.

“They’re going to implement a train-the-trainer program,” he said. “The city has made a commitment to have James come in and implement procedures.”

Anable said GLSEN provides safe schools kits for the district’s 38 middle and high schools.

“Fort Worth ISD was very receptive,” he said. “It’s nice to have GLSEN represented here.”

Andy Marra, GLSEN’s national public relations manager, said, “We’re really excited to have a presence in Dallas again.”

Marra said Houston’s chapter is recently revitalized as well.

She said it was important in a state where nine out of 10 students reported hearing homophobic slurs in school and a third of students in that study said they heard faculty and staff making those slurs as well.

“Our train-the-trainer program is extremely popular,” Marra said.

She said GLSEN’s national staff is excited to have Tate and his board helping to make sure all North Texas LGBT students have a safe learning environment.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 16, 2012.

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