LGBT employee group at AT&T funds summer GED program at Youth First Texas

Back row, from left: Joshua S. Hampshire, Adolpho Martinez, Celina Blanco, Joy Rasco, Maz-E Magnus, Daniel Hernandez, Argenis Ayala, John Cramer; and front row, Joeii Johnson.

LEAGUE at AT&T, the Dallas-based phone giant’s employee resource group, has given Youth First Texas a grant to fund a summer GED and SAT program. The grant allows YFT to hire a professional teacher to conduct the two one-week intensive series.

“One of our missions is to ensure youth get their high school education and go on to college,” Dallas’ League President John Cramer said.

He said the group raised half of the $5,800 donated to YFT at a brunch. The money was matched by the League Foundation.

AT&T’s Josh Hamilton, who was on hand to present the check to the youth group, runs a job shadow program that brings high school students to the company’s offices to show them the type of work AT&T offers to people with high school diplomas and college degrees. Cramer said the program is designed to encourage students to stay in school and especially show LGBT youth that “it gets better.” Although the program mostly works with schools, Cramer said he wanted to make sure YFT had the same access to the company’s resources.

YFT board chair Chris Cognetta said the money will be used to hire a teacher. Both the GED and SAT camps will run for a week each, eight hours a day. At the end of the GED camp, students will take their high school equivalency tests. Cognetta said YFT will rebate the testing fee for students who pass the tests.

The test costs $95. He said students taking the SAT will also receive a rebate if they score higher than a minimum score. For students who need more intensive instruction, one-on-one tutoring is available throughout the year.

Cognetta said only a few spaces remain for the summer camps, but this is just a pilot program and he plans to continue partnering with League at AT&T to offer the classes throughout the year.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Officials at Okla. high school accused of bullying lesbian students into dropping out

What happens when anti-gay bullying comes not from students but from a school’s administration?

Several lesbian former students say administrators at Del City High School, southeast of Oklahoma City, are discouraging gay students from graduating.

One girl, Kelsey Hicks, says the principal told her to drop out and get her GED because, “You’re gay, you’re not going to do anything with your life.”

Another, Melissa McKenzie, said she was expelled from Del City after moving in with her girlfriend. “He [the principal] said if you go back to your mom’s house, you can go back to school.”

Both Hicks and McKenzie also say they were kicked off the Del City High School softball team.

A third girl who graduated from Del City High School said a school official once told her that being gay is an “unhealthy lifestyle.”

“He had found out that I was gay and he was on my case about every little thing,” she said.

According to KWTV Channel 9 in Oklahoma City, the school district issued a statement saying the three girls aren’t current students and none of them has filed a complaint.

—  John Wright