DALLAS (CBDFW.COM) – “The data shows that our LGBTQ youth aren’t protected in schools,” Mahoganie Gaston said. “If they don’t have the support system, they’re two times more likely not to attend school and three times more likely to drop out of school”
For the last year, Gaston has hosted district-wide trainings on LGBTQ-related issues and how to make campuses safer for students.
Upon completion, participants receive a badge.
“So when students see the badge, they know that the staff member is a safe person,” she said.
Another big part of her job is setting up Gay Straight Alliances at the district’s middle and high schools.
“The GSAs are extracurricular clubs – like any other club – and there are straight allies that attend,” she said.
Jody Martin and Morgan Merriman sponsor a GSA at Woodrow Wilson High School. They said because of COVID-19, they’ve been meeting with students virtually and sometimes take on pretty heavy topics.
“A lot of the kids parents don’t understand what they’re going through or support their feelings,” Martin said.
“There is LGBTQ specific bullying and it might just be certain comments like “that’s so gay”, but we also have several trans students who have experienced bullying,” Merriman said.
Through conversation, they work through emotions and issues. Right now, almost 25% of all Dallas ISD middle and high schools have GSAs and because of the impact they’ve made so far, the district is currently working to put them in all middle and high school campuses.