Subject: strictly fyi: help needed, banned books, power of parents' dialogue, zero tolerance policies & better alternatives
From: "Reis, Beth" <>
Date: 6/28/2012 9:22 AM

Dear Safe Schools Coalition Members and Friends:


(1)  King County folks – this is for you – SEAMEC needs volunteers NOW

(2) “Support the use of banned books!” – a message from Kim Westheimer, Director of Welcoming Schools at HRC Foundation

(3) Stories From the Field: From Controversy to Dialogue – a message from Welcoming Schools Associate Director Kisha Webster

(4) new report from GSA Network Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying 




(1)  King County folks – this is for you – SEAMEC needs volunteers NOW


SEAMEC is a non-partisan all-volunteer organization that rates local and state-wide candidates for office based on their attitudes, record, and experience regarding LGBTQ issues and concerns. Over a decade ago, the Safe Schools Coalition prevailed upon SEAMEC to include the County’s 18 other school districts’ school board candidates (in addition to Seattle’s) in their rating process. But doing so is a logistical challenge for them. We kicked in a BUNCH of volunteer time to make it possible. It is actually very fun. You get to be in on interviews with candidates (not just school board candidates, but candidates for all kinds of races) and then to negotiate with other interviewers how to score that person. VERY interesting, speaking personally as one who has often volunteered with SEAMEC. After years, the commitment from Safe Schools volunteers has tapered off to the point that SEAMEC is too short-handed to include many school-board races in their process. They are in need of interviewers. Here is the message I received from Herb Krohn this week …


Dear Friends:

SEAMEC (the Seattle Metropolitan Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Persons) is currently interviewing candidates for the 2012 Primary who will appear on the King County ballot including all legislative offices, Congressional seats, county offices, Judicial, as well as Statewide offices.  SEAMEC has been producing Election Candidate Ratings on LGBT rights and issues annually since 1977. 

We are in IMMEDIATE need of additional people to participate on candidate interview panels.  SEAMEC provides a questionnairefor these interviews, so no prior experience is necessary.  The only qualification is that you be of voting age and support LGBT equality.  After the interview questionnaire is completed panelists can inquire about and discuss other issues with the candidates.

The interviews are generally held Monday-Friday at the SEAMEC office on Capitol Hill in Seattle, at 1605 12th Ave. at E. Pine, Room # 21 (inside Richmark building with Liquor Store on the corner). Interviews usually start at 6, 7, and 8 pm daily and will continue through the 2nd week of July, and resume again for a week or two of additional interviews after the August Primary.

If you are interested please call SEAMEC Co-Chair Dave Haining at 425-485-7926 or email him at


Thanks so much!!

herb (Krohn)




(2) “Support the use of banned books!” – a message from Kim Westheimer, Director of Welcoming Schools at HRC Foundation


“Some families adopt children. Some families have two moms or two dads. Some families have one parent instead of two… Some families like to be quiet. Some families like to be noisy.” – from The Family Book by Todd Parr


Two books by well-known children's authors are under attack. Todd Parr's The Family Book, a picture book with Parr's signature playful illustrations, was banned in a school district in Erie, Illinois. In Our Mother’s House by Patricia Polacco, which includes the thoughtful dialogue that educators have come to expect from Polacco, can now only be signed out of a school library with a parent’s permission in Davis County, Utah.


Unfortunately, many people only hear about these books when there is controversy, but every day schools throughout the country use these books with support from parents and without making headlines. Here’s what you can do to help get out the word about the successful use of these books and to support their use in schools:




(3) Stories From the Field: From Controversy to Dialogue – a message from Welcoming Schools Associate Director Kisha Webster


I recently heard from the parents of a 4th grader who was extremely hurt when she was told she could not do an oral book report on Ash by Malinda Lo..Ash is a retelling of the classic tale Cinderella, with a twist. The central character, Ash, falls in love with Kaisa – a noblewoman and the King’s Huntress.


Though the assignment was free choice, allowing students to select their own titles, the teacher asked this student to choose another book because she felt Ash would cause discomfort for other students. In an email to the student’s parents, she also said she was not prepared to answer student questions about the topic and claimed her actions reflected a strict district-wide policy defining what was appropriate for elementary schools.


Yet after a quick check with central administration I discovered that no such policy existed. I shared this with her parents and suggested they schedule a meeting with the teacher and the principal to express their concerns.


The meeting that followed demonstrates the incredible power of open communication and respectful dialogue. The principal confirmed that no district policy prevented a book report on Ash and both the principal and teacher gave heartfelt apologies to the student and her parents.


Another breakthrough came after the parents shared information about Welcoming Schools. The teacher expressed interest in learning more about the program and the principal promised to take steps to empower teachers to react more appropriately to such situations in the future.


Welcoming Schools is committed to assisting educators and parents in creating and maintaining school climates which are safe and inclusive learning environments.




(4) new report from GSA Network Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying 


"When schools respond to bullying with harsh disciplinary measures, they often hurt the very students they intend to protect."
- Carolyn Laub, Executive Director, GSA Network


We all know that bullying can have tragic consequences. But how can schools protect students from bullying without making the problem worse?

A report just released by GSA Network in partnership with the Advancement Project and the Alliance for Educational Justice finally answers that question.

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Why Zero Tolerance is Not the Solution to Bullying
  examines the surge of recent policy and legislative activity around bullying of LGBT and other youth, and finds that policymakers and school officials have erroneously adopted zero-tolerance policies that rely on suspensions, expulsions, and arrests of alleged bullies. This punitive approach results in students being needlessly pushed out of school and placed onto a path into the criminal justice system coined the "school-to-prison pipeline.

Harsh discipline practices and student-on-student bullying often affect students in the same ways, resulting in lower academic scores, truancy, psychological trauma, diminished self-worth and dropping out altogether.  "Schools essentially become the bullies when they employ 'get tough' tactics to address bullying," said Shaquille Carbon, a student leader at Baltimore Algebra Project and a member of the Alliance for Educational Justice, a national alliance of youth organizing groups working for educational justice.  " We can stop bullying without pushing more students out of school, " said Shaquille.

Please keep reading and download this important report here to learn how we can make schools safe for ALL students!

In solidarity,
Gay-Straight Alliance Network  




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