Coordinator Mahoganie Gaston of Dallas ISD’s LGBTQ Youth Services recently attended a high school’s Gay Straight Alliance panel, where she met a student who demonstrated the “why” behind everything Gaston does. The group was small, so the 16-year-old student felt comfortable expressing that he did not have any support at home.
“It was really heartbreaking because he was basically saying that he didn’t want to be gay because no one supports him in his family,” Gaston said. “Leaving that space, he realized that on his campus, within that room, there were five adults and other members of the LGBTQ community who were there to support him.”
That is why celebrating Pride Month throughout the district is so important to Gaston. She said knowing the policies Dallas ISD has in place is one of the best ways to support students on every campus. To learn about the policies, visit www.dallasisd.org/lgbtq.
Students also have access to various Gay Straight Alliances. These extracurricular, student-led clubs are protected by the Equal Access Act of 1984, and they currently exist on 25 percent of Dallas ISD’s secondary campuses. LGBTQ Youth Services’ goal is to one day see Gay Straight Alliances at 100 percent of the district’s secondary schools.
“The data shows that when you have a Gay Straight Alliance on campus, the campus culture is a lot healthier for all students,” Gaston said. “We are the only district in the state that has a department fully dedicated to supporting LGBTQ students. My hope is that other districts see what we’re doing in Dallas ISD and realize that this is a vulnerable population that we need to support.”
In collaboration with Mental Health Services, LGBTQ Youth Services put together a detailed resource guide that can be shared with parents, staff and students alike. It is broken down into several categories, including housing, medical support and mental health. A few key resources include:
- The Trevor Project—a national organization that provides crisis support services for LGBTQ youth in need.
- DFW Trans Kids & Families—a social and peer support group for trans kids and their families.
- Family Acceptance Project—a research-based booklet for families to help strengthen relationships with LGBTQ youth, and to help families provide support and to decrease LGBTQ youth’s risk for serious health and mental health problems in adulthood.
- MyPronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns—all you need to know about personal pronouns.
- GenderSpectrum.org—extensive resources in the format of articles, events, stories and videos, for parents, educators and more.
To see the full list of resources, visit www.bit.ly/DISDLGBTQ.
“We are putting words into action,” Gaston said. “Dallas ISD fully supports the LGBTQ community. By highlighting Pride Month, it shows not just individuals within the Dallas-Fort Worth area but across the nation that this is what we do in Dallas ISD.”