Miami-Dade, 4th Largest School District in the Nation, Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Bullying Policy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, (July 21, 2011)
Brian Winfield, Communications Director, (727) 488-7799
Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director, (954) 682-6094
Miami-Dade, 4th Largest School District in the Nation, Adds
Gender Identity to Anti-Bullying Policy
(MIAMI) Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest school district in the nation with 345,000 students, has added gender identity to its harassment and bullying ordinance. Equality Florida and the members of our Florida Safe Schools Coalition have worked for more than a decade to expand these protections in Miami and across our state.
With this latest victory, 1.55 million students, nearly 60% of Florida's school population, are now protected from bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity - ranking Florida 4th in the nation for the number of students with LGBT protections.
"This is a tipping point for Florida. Our work will continue until every school district, large and small, provides these vital protections," said Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director for Equality Florida.
In 2008, Equality Florida led an eight-year coalition effort to pass a statewide anti-bullying policy that resulted in the passage of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act. Since then, Equality Florida, along with a broad-based coalition involving students, parents, teachers, and grassroots organizations, has been working with school districts across the state, including Miami-Dade, to create policies that specifically protect students from anti-LGBT bullying.
"The PTA has long recognized the importance of protecting all children including our LGBT students. We're proud to have partnered for years with Equality Florida, and we're proud of the role we played in pushing these new protections forward," said Karen Rivo, past Health and Safety Chair of Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs / PTSAs.
"For many years the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Equality Florida have partnered to protect all students from bullying," stated Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL Florida Regional Director. "As a national leader in countering bias and bullying, we are extremely pleased and commend the Miami-Dade School Board for adding gender identity to its anti-harassment policy."
In addition to working closely with the 30+ organizations that make up our Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition, Equality Florida has also been on the ground in Miami-Dade schools, training students to lead Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) and training their adult GSA advisors. Currently, nearly 40 Miami-Dade GSAs belong to our Florida GSA Network, one of the fastest growing state networks in the nation.
“As we celebrate this victory, we send thanks to our tremendous Miami-Dade Safe Schools Coalition,” said Pollitzer. The coalition includes: the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Safe Schools South Florida, NOW, AAUW, AFL-CIO, Alliance for GLBTQ Youth, FEA, PTA, The Student Government Association of Miami Dade, Pridelines, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Yes Institute, NCJW, NCCJ, United Teachers of Dade, Save Dade, the Non-Violence Project, SEIU, Unity Coalition, Lambda Legal, NCLR, the Greater Miami Urban League, and the Miami Dade Community Task Force to Prevent Bullying.
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.