The go-to place for programs to combat bullying in schools

Mary Jo Kaska, new programming director Hope for Peace and Justice, says the organization will focus on private schools

Kaska1

Mary Jo Kaska

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Mary Jo Kaska, the new director of programming for Hope for Peace and Justice, hopes her organization becomes the go-to place for help in establishing anti-bullying policies, especially for private schools in Texas.

Right now, the biggest program at Hope for Peace and Justice is its Safe Schools Project.

“We’ve taken the stand that all school districts need enumerated categories,” she said. “The addition of those enumerated categories spells out for young people that the kind of bullying they’ve seen in their schools frequently is no longer tolerated.”

Kaska said that Hope for Peace and Justice is creating its own standard for an anti-bullying program that is research-based, comparing the rollout of this policy to the way Nolan High School, where she taught, introduced its harassment policy.

“We developed a code,” she said. “We talked to boys and girls separately — straight on — explaining what harassment was, [how] what they did before was harassment and won’t be tolerated.”

She said a successful policy sets out who to go to and what happens when the rules are violated.

When that happens, she said, “suddenly a bell goes off before a student does something. It’s an educational process. You’re creating a safe climate, a safe culture.”

The regulations articulate a set of values and a policy, she said.

While H4PJ would be happy to work with public schools that need assistance, Kaska said the organization’s focus is on private schools. Despite the law passed in this year’s session of the Texas Legislature, she said many private schools feel exempt because they don’t receive public funding.

One step in making schools safer, she Kaska, is training teachers to intervene.

“What I like about the Texas law is that it requires the whole program to be on the district website,” she said.

Posting the policy she said is important for private schools too.

Once criteria are finalized, Kaska said H4PJ will be contacting private schools throughout the Dallas area first and then throughout the state. Its consulting services will be available to schools for free, and paid for by H4PJ contributors.

“Then our website will be one-stop shopping for the best anti-bullying resources,” Kaska said.

“Private schools are already doing so many things right,” she said, but added that some simple changes will help make schools a little bit safer.

“We want schools to be able to promote their success stories,” Kaska said. “Upload videos showing things that are working. Foster student leadership and participation in developing a respectful and welcoming school environment.”

Kaska was hired after group founder and president Michael Piazza moved to Atlanta earlier this year. She said that although her organization is based at Cathedral of Hope, it is incorporated as a separate non-profit organization.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

In wake of anti-lgbt youth climate, Focus on the Family attacks GLSEN

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Candi Cushman of Focus on the Family just released a critique of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)'s recent school climate report.

GLSEN's report found that in 2009:

 . . . 7,261 middle and high school students found that at school nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation. Nearly a third of LGBT students skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.

Naturally, Cushman and Focus on the Family disputes this. To make a long story short, Cushman is claiming that GLSEN's report is inaccurate because it:

 . . . lists four authors—all of whom are employed by GLSEN, including Emily A. Greytak, who became involved with a GLSEN chapter 12 years ago and has worked for the organization since 2006; Elizabeth M. Diaz, who, as a GLSEN employee since 2004, conducts workshops opposing abstinence education; and GLSEN employee Mark J. Bartkiewicz, whose “research interests include LGBT students’ access to comprehensive sexual health education and the effects of inclusive LGBT curricula.”

Hardly what you’d call an objective research team—and then there’s the little fact that they are paid by an organization that has openly acknowledged its goal of getting gay, lesbian and transgender themes “fully integrated into curricula across a variety of subject areas and grade levels.”

Cushman is pushing the same old lie that GLSEN is trying to "introduce homosexual themes" into schools in order to "indoctrinate" children.

 

It's the standard lie she and Focus on the Family pushes and it's nothing new.

But the sad thing is that this attack is coming in a climate in which we have seen a recent outbreak of bullying and suicides of young lgbts including:

An 11-year-old sixth grader in Ohio had his arm broken by teenagers who called him a queer and a sissy because he wanted to be a cheerleader.

There's the suicide, by hanging, of 13-year-old Seth Walsh, in California.

The suicide, by means of his father's Beretta, of 13-year-old Asher Brown, in Texas.

and finally, the suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi, which needs no introduction because we know the story.

 In the long run, it doesn't matter who backed the GLSEN report or who created it.

Because based on recent events, the report has a degree of accuracy.

If Cushman or Focus on the Family really cared about the children, they would realize this instead of releasing a ridiculous critique that does nothing but demonstrate how uncaring and clueless they really are.

Related posts:

Focus on the Family's attack on anti-bullying efforts take centerstage on AC 360

Focus on the Family cites George Rekers in fighting anti-bullying efforts

The Problems With Focus On The Family’s And The Alliance Defense Fund’s Model Anti-Bullying Policy

AFA Highlights/Recycles FOTF Campaign Against Perceived Gay Public School Agenda
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright