LAPS Strives To Be Inclusive

Former LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and Healthy Schools Director Kristine Coblentz. Courtesy/FLAP 

By KELLY DOLEJSI
Friends of Los Alamos Pride

Los Alamos Public Schools is committed to becoming a more welcoming district that is responsive to and inclusive of people of all backgrounds and identities, Healthy Schools Director Kristine Coblentz said.

“Learning more about how to create safe learning and working environments for LGBTQ+ students and staff is a crucial part of this effort,” she said.

Coblentz, former LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy and Prevention Support Specialist Brandi Seekins, have been supporting LAPS’ Safe Space Initiative, which provides training for school staff to serve as Safe Space Resource People.

Training, in which more than 30 LAPS staff members have participated, includes a review of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the support they provide for LGBTQ students and educators; understanding the importance of language; understanding the importance of and how to intervene in support of LGBTQ students; understanding the Safe Schools for All Students Act; and a review of statistics about LGBTQ experiences.

Statistics provided by the New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, show trans, genderqueer and gender fluid youth more at risk for unstable housing, cigarette smoking, heroin use, alcohol use, forced sex, bullying, and suicide when compared with their cisgender peers.

GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey found 66 percent of LGBTQ+ students in New Mexico had experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation, and 54 percent based on their gender expression or identity. High percentages of students also were physically harassed or assaulted, prevented from using the bathroom aligned with their gender, prevented from participating in sports, prevented from using their chosen name and pronouns in school, and disciplined for expressing affection in public (while their non-LGBTQ+ peers were not disciplined for similar behaviors).

The training is facilitated by the Albuquerque Chapter of GLSEN.

Two successful Pride Weeks and one pandemic later, Pride Week runs through Sunday in Los Alamos. This year’s theme is “Coming Out After COVID”.

The first Pride march in New York City was held June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising (link). Fifty-one years later, towns and cities across the United States continue to celebrate gay pride and to advocate for LGBTQ+ people, year-round but especially in June. Many in Los Alamos are excited to share in the celebration, including many local business owners.

This series of mini-profiles aims to highlight as many gay-friendly local businesses as possible. Email kdolejsi@gmail.com if you own a business or run an organization and want to extend your support to Los Alamos Pride Week. Regardless of whether you own a business, follow Los Alamos Pride on Facebook here and Los Alamos Pride Week on Instagram here.

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