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How We are Helping Reduce Suicide in Georgia


By | blog, Latest News, LGBT, Professional Development, Respect For All Project, Straightlaced

Did you see the recent New York Times article about how difficult daily life is for students who identify as LGBT? It’s alarming.

The Center for Disease Control finally did a study of high school youth who identify as LGBT.

40 percent of them have considered suicide.

Why?

  • They are three times more likely than straight students to have been raped.
  • They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe;
  • At least a third had been bullied on school property.
  • They were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

That’s why GroundSpark is stepping up our efforts to help prevent suicide among youth and young adults. Our professional development program which is centered around using Straightlaced—How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up is proving to be an excellent way for educators to grasp what they can do to make school safer for all students who don’t conform to the so-called norms of gender and sexuality expression.

Mental health professionals who work in colleges and universities across the state of Georgia recently formed the Georgia’s College Suicide Prevention Coalition.

For their very first event, GroundSpark teamed up with our partner, SOJOURN (the Southern Jewish Resource Network), to provide a three-hour training.

GroundSpark Facilitators Serian Strauss and Eileen Nathanson introduce our Pyramid of Peace

Participants

  • learned the statistics about how heteronormativity increases suicide risks;
  • reflected on the early messages they received about LGBTQ people;
  • practiced responding to LGBTQ issues that commonly arise in their work setting;
  • unpacked stereotypes, assumptions, and concepts related to identity and intersectionality.

Scenes from Straightlaced brought youth perspectives into the room and helped jumpstart the dialogue.

Our lead trainer, Eileen Nathanson, knows that these kinds of exercises help mental health providers to understand what their clients may have experienced as well as increase their own self-awareness. “As a psychotherapist,” Eileen says, “I see the ongoing mental health impact of growing up in a world that largely communicates that we must hide or bury ourselves if we are to be safe and loved. Expanding our thinking about the impact of homophobia and rigid gender stereotypes allows us to better partner with students in all aspects of their healing.”

 

Participants stand back-to-back, waiting for their next prompt in our “pair-share” exercise. In this activity GroundSpark trainers present real life scenarios so participants can practice spontaneous responses to provide support or advocacy involving LGBT students or colleagues.

 

Do you want to bring a GroundSpark training to your university or network? For more info or to schedule a workshop or presentation in your area, please email us at info@groundspark.org and tell us a little bit about what you are looking for.

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