#WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur

September 23rd, 2014

Better Together Cohort

October 1st marks the beginning of National LGBTQ History Month. In celebration of our history and our current work, The Better Together Southern Leadership and Action Cohort (Better Together Cohort) is proud to debut an exciting new photo campaign, #WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur, to magnify the robust lives, cross cultural organizing, and dynamic leadership of LGBTQ, People of Color, and Immigrant Communities working to advance Racial Justice and LGBTQ Liberation in the US South.


What is Better Together?

The Better Together Cohort began in 2012 as an initiative of The Center for Racial Justice Innovation (Race Forward) in partnership with Southerners on New Ground (SONG) to “connect and support a diverse set of Southern leaders working at the intersection of racial and LGBT justice in their communities.” Now in our second year, the cohort consists of eight social change organizations – BreakOUT!, Center for Artistic Revolution, Fairness Campaign, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Freedom Center for Social Justice and The Trans* People of Color Coalition – organizing across lines of difference and approaching our work through an intersectional lens.

Through our partnership, we hope to build power, increase visibility, and secure social and economic justice for queer folks, people of color, and immigrant communities in the US South to advance Racial Justice and LGBTQ Liberation.


#WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur

#WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur is a call to action. As Immigrants, People of Color, and LGBTQ folks living in the South, we are a dynamic, complex, multifaceted people who understand that our lives and our works are not contained within single-issue movements. In order to achieve lasting change in our communities – safe and affirming schools for all young people, equal access to health care, employment, education and housing, and the freedom to express our culture, gender, and sexuality free from violence for starters – our activism must engage strategies that build relationships rooted in inclusiveness, unity, and a shared fate within the South.

As such, #WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur builds on the rich history of multi-issue, multiracial, and intergenerational organizing in the South and celebrates the resiliency of our communities. Through #WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur, our purpose is simple. By collecting and sharing the images of LGBTQ, People of Color, and Immigrant communities and organizations resisting in the South, we intend to:

  • Increase the visibility of organizations and activists who are often overshadowed by coast-led and single issue organizing,
  • Highlight the true diversity of the South and the vital Southern leadership in intersectional LGBTQ organizing that goes beyond marriage equality, and
  • Create a space that honors the unique experiences of being immigrants, people of color and/or LGBTQ people in the South.

#WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur reflects elders of LGBTQ organizations that have been leading liberation work in the South for decades, young trans people of color working to end criminalization in their cities, immigrant and queer people working together to stop deportations, a diverse group of citizens demanding a raise to their city’s minimum wage, and more!

We recognize that a “Southern Strategy” not rooted in and informed by people living at the margins in the South is destined for failure, and we collectively uplift the legacy of the powerful coalition building and movement work of the South to reposition our communities as the faces of our movements.


Join us!

We cannot do this without you. We invite you to add your pictures and voices to this campaign. Send us your best selfie and a few words that describe you as an LGBTQ, POC, immigrant and/or Southern ally. Send us photos of you or your organization in action, doing what you do best, at an event, rally or direct action.

You can send your pictures to anna@mssafeschools.org. You can also like, retweet, tumble, and share the images on social media.

Then join us on the #WeAreTheSouth | #SomosElSur Day of Action on October 1, 2014. You can check out all the photos throughout that day and later on by visiting www.wearethesouth.org.

Please share three of your best photos and be sure to tell us who is in the photo and where you are.  First names only are OK if that is more comfortable.

You can send in a selfie, a poster board selfie or a group photo. Be sure to send us a few words too.

Paris  Parker
QYLTS Camp 2014 Group Photo MLK House  Anna - selfie

 

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Day of Silence 2014

April 10th, 2014
GLSEN DoS 2014

Tomorrow (April 11th) students from across the country will be participating in the annual Day of Silence. If your school is participating (even if you aren’t part of a GSA or student organization), make sure to register with GLSEN.

Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition along with other Southern partners will be coordinating via Twitter so if you’re not able to participate or if you’re an adult ally looking for ways to help, check us out via social media.

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For more information on how you can participate check out http://dayofsilence.org/. Some of our favorite resources are:

You can also find speaking cards (including mobile phone/tablet versions), posters, activity ideas and the history of Day of Silence.

Point Foundation Applications due Jan. 21, 2014

January 3rd, 2014

Fall 2014 Undergraduate and Graduate students should apply

Point Foundation Facebook

We all know finding money for college can be really tough. For LGBT youth that can be especially true as many experience homelessness, family rejection, and school pushout. If you will be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in Fall 2014, consider applying for the Point Foundation Scholarship.

To see the eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.pointfoundation.org/eligibility.

To apply visit: https://pointfoundation.org/apply

 

Districts and Department of Education should create access to LGBT support materials

December 17th, 2013

Mississippi students can only excel if they have the means to do so. School environments which are supportive, inclusive, and focus on educating tomorrow’s leaders help students succeed. Schools which focus on policing schools by upholding policies which alienate, incarcerate and ultimately focus on creating environments which stifle creativity and innovation. These environments are neither good for the students, who are mandated to be at school, nor for the educators and staff who act as enforcers in this system.

Consider one Mississippi student who reported daily harassment from teachers, administration, and her peers because of her appearance. After she came out, she noted that many of her peers grew to appreciate her and accept that she was gay, but the adults in her school continued their harassment which led to her being removed from school and homeschooled.

Now consider that this story is not a new one, nor is it from an isolated school district. This is a story which is told almost every year by different students from different school districts across the state. Since MSSC was founded in 2008, not one year has gone by when we have not received similar complaints from youth and their parents.

Overwhelmingly what has happened in many schools is that peers are showing more and more support for their LGBTQ peers. They are coming out in support as well by forming LGBT student organizations in Mississippi colleges and high schools. MSSC, along with numerous organizations around the state ask that school administrators, faculty and staff come out and support these youth too. In the past 3 years, MSSC has worked in conjunction with NFusion Mississippi, Teach for America, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and many others to ensure that care providers, law enforcement, school employees, and those who work with youth have access to information that will help them create safer communities for our youth.

We encourage all professionals to reach out to us for further support on creating safer more inclusive school environments.

Further we encourage school districts and the Mississippi Department of Education to take a stance in support of Mississippi students by creating more opportunities for schools and educators to access trainings and materials that will greatly impact schools for all of Mississippi.


9 (baby) steps to safer schools:

  1. Adopt a written policy outlining a grievance procedure for youth and staff to report discrimination, harassment or abuse, and offer guidance on appropriate responses to discrimination, harassment or abuse by personnel, youth participants or contractors.
  2. Require and ensure that all school staff receive initial comprehensive LGBT cultural competency training and develop a mechanism for ongoing training.
  3. Identify a staff person to serve as the LGBT resource contact person within the agency or school, who stays up-to-date on LGBT community resources, and is accessible to youth, parents and staff for information and/or supervision.
  4. Inform and assist LGBT youth and families to access local LGBT support services and programs.
  5. Affirm and include LGBT communities on your school web site and in its printed materials.
  6. Create an inclusive and safe physical environment for LGBT youth and families by displaying supportive images such as inclusive posters, pink triangles, rainbows or hate-free zone stickers.
  7. Institute a restorative justice program in your school which can help address issues that arise, instead of hiring more security resource officers or relying on zero-tolerance policies. (video from Dignity in Schools)
  8. Include sexual orientation and gender identity/gender expression in non-discrimination policies and anti-bullying policies.
  9. Support and establish Gay-Straight Alliances in all school districts in Mississippi. 

Develop your skills, join the Youth Organizers Training Program!

August 27th, 2013

We’re streamlining our leadership development projects and and as a result created the MSSC Youth Organizers Training Program.MSSC’s YO Training Program aims to build a stronger leadership base in Mississippi’s youth. The YO program goes further than the workshops at MSSC’s annual events (Summit, Camp). We want to foster young leaders in developing their community organizing skills. Even though our first cohort has already started, young people are encourage to apply for one of the following cohorts:

Cohort One: 3 positions available to begin Summer 2013*
Cohort Two: 6 positions available to begin Fall 2013
Cohort Three: 10 positions available to begin Spring 2014*
Cohort Four: 10 positions to begin Summer 2013

Being accepted into this program means that MSSC has invested in your future with our organization, our state and our movement. It also means that you have invested your time, commitment, and energy to this work.

There’s activism and advocacy and then there’s

COMMUNITY ORGANIZING

For more on the Youth Organizers Training Program please visit www.mssafeschools.org/yo


* Indicates Express Track cohort. Attendance at annual training required.

“Give Out Day” Raises Over $550K for LGBT Organizations

May 10th, 2013

The Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition was the only Mississippi group participating this year. We raised over $500 in just 24 hours. Those funds are going to be used to help further our programs and projects, new ventures, and our internship program.

MSSC greatly depends on generous donations from our supporters. Just last year, our annual Queer Youth & Ally Summit cost just under $100 because of generous non-monetary donations from local businesses and volunteers. We appreciate all methods of giving. For more information on how you can volunteer please fill out our Volunteer Registration.

At the close of the 24 hour period 5,474 people gave $556,400 to LGBT organizations from across the United States. National Give Out Day, powered by Bolder Giving released this statement at 12amEST/11pm CST:

Thank you for being part of the first ever Give OUT Day for the LGBTQ community and making history! Because of your generosity, countless lives will be impacted through your gifts to LGBTQ nonprofit organizations that address our community’s needs in a changing and complex society.

Thank you for uniting to give where you live!

For more information on how you can volunteer please fill out our Volunteer Registration.

Join others in donating to MSSC May 9th for Give Out Day!

May 2nd, 2013

On May 9th, 2013, thousands of people across the country are going to show their support for their favorite LGBTQ nonprofit during Give OUT Day.  On that day, every donation and donor we get will go further to help us claim our share of awards.

We need you to help us with these three things:

1) Mark May 9th, 2013, on your calendar and add this giving link. http://giveout.razoo.com/story/Mississippi-Safe-Schools-Coalition

2) Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and help build the buzz.

3) Spread the excitement! Tell your friends and family why you think they should help us with their donation. Please be our champion, and help us

“Breaking the Silence” LGBTQ+ Symposium- April 19-20th

April 2nd, 2013
Attention LGBTQ campus activists!
     The UM Pride Network, Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation are co-sponsoring “Breaking the Silence LGBTQ Symposium: Changing Campus Climate” April 19-20, 2013, at the University of Mississippi. The event includes workshops, skill-sharing sessions for GSAs across the state, and a keynote by Paulina Helm-Hernandez from Southerners on New Ground.  Travel assistance is available for people coming from out of town.

For full schedule of events, click here.

The registration deadline is April 5th.  Click Here to Register or for more information!

 

 

Apply to Become a QYAB Member

February 26th, 2013

 

Are you interested in working with LGBTQ+ youth in the educational system? Want to better your community? Would you like to be part of something life altering? Why not apply to be a part of the Queer Youth Advisory Board (or QYAB) for the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, our youth driven and youth led board of directors. MSSC is now accepting applications for QYAB 2013.

 For  information about our current QYAB, check out our Leadership Page.

 

Why should you apply? By joining QYAB you will gain valuable leadership experience, learn new skills,  have access to travel opportunities, and experience the exciting and rewarding world of non-profits work.

 

 

Click here to apply online.

   PRIORITY DEADLINE: March 15, 2013


*Applications turned in before the priority deadline will be considered first. While we will accept applications after this date, they may not be considered for this year’s application process.

*Applicants must commit to serving as a QYAB member one year to date of joining.

 

 

5th Annual MSSC Summit on LGBTQ Youth in Mississippi

October 25th, 2012

group photoWe’re hosting our 5th annual Queer Youth & Allies Summit. Every year MSSC brings together youth and adults from across the state for a few days of activism, education and networking. This year we’re going to be running in conjunction with Jackson Black Pride, an annual event hosted by My Brother’s Keeper. Summit will provide leadership development for young folks around school-to-prison pipeline issues, student organizations and GSAs, as well as provide for the first time an address on the works of MSSC. We’re going into our 5th year and we want to celebrate our accomplishments with you.

20121024-194734.jpgJoin us November 16-18th at Safe Harbor Family Church. All ages are welcome. We will have topics targeted for students, educators, and community allies. Our focus this year is a continuation from last year, which aimed at creating more inclusive communities by working at the intersections of racial justice, educational justice, and queer justice.

The event is free and open to all ages
To register please visit www.mssafeschools.org/registration

Want to present at Summit or have a topic you’d want to learn more about?

MSSC is accepting workshop proposals and topic suggestions until November 3rd. If you or your organization would like to submit a workshop proposal or suggestion please visit http://goo.gl/73dx9