LGBT liaison to help implement new Lambda Literary Foundation program for students and professional development for teachers
NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm working with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and his colleagues in the LGBT Caucus has secured funding in the city’s Fiscal Year ’16 budget to enable the NYC Department of Education (DOE) to hire its first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community liaison and to implement a balanced literacy program that includes gay authors as well as provide for LGBT curriculum development for teachers. Jared Fox has been appointed as the new LGBT liaison.
“The appointment of a liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities is the culmination of a career’s worth of advocacy for me,” said Dromm, who came out as an openly gay teacher in 1992. “Back in those days, LGBT teachers and students were mostly closeted. With the appointment of Jared Fox as the new LGBT liaison, the Department has taken a bold step forward to assure students and teachers alike that anti-gay discrimination will not be tolerated and that, in fact, the department will look for ways to be more inclusive of the LGBT communities. I am so proud that the Council was able to provide the funding for this position and and for the curriculum work that will be done. Many people’s lives will be affected in a very positive way because of this new approach to inclusivity. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña for working closely with me to make this happen.”
Fox, a former teacher who founded the New York City chapter of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is responsible for creating a strategic plan for the DOE to best serve the many needs of LGBT students, teachers and staff in the public school system. The position was created within the DOE’s Office of Safety and Youth Development.
“It is an honor to take on this role serving LGBT students, staff and families across our city,” said Jared Fox, LGBT Community Liaison. “Creating a positive and supportive school environment for LGBT students is incredibly important to their success in the classroom and beyond and I look forward to working across the other city agencies to ensure the LGBT community has the resources and support they need.”
“Our goal is to promote a positive school climate and culture that supports students in their academic and social growth, and we are pleased to welcome Jared Fox as the new LGTB Community Liaison – a valuable addition to our team, who will be working with city agencies and community organizations to help schools support, protect and provide resources to LGBT students, families and community members,” said Lois Herrera, CEO of Office of Safety and Youth Development. “Council Member Dromm and NYC Council’s LGBT Caucus were instrumental in creating and securing funding for this position and we are grateful for their dedication to ensuring that all schools have an inclusive culture that does not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
Over the past few weeks Fox has met with principals, teachers and students to learn about their hopes and challenges in making schools a more welcoming place for LGBT people. Fox will work toward developing an LGBT-inclusive curriculum, assisting schools in collecting data and establishing GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender-Sexuality Alliances) for students. He will also further develop the NYC DOE transgender student guidelines, create a more hospitable workplace for faculty and staff and expand professional development so that educators are better equipped to serve LGBT young people.
Lambda Literary Foundation will introduce stellar works of literature to students by bringing LGBT authors of color into classrooms. Fox is implementing this program in conjunction with school leadership and the Foundation so that literature and classes are appropriately matched. The program will begin this spring.
“Literature is where many LGBT youth first find an affirmative self-identity and straight kids experience LGBT lives in a positive light,” said Tony Valenzuela, Lambda Literary’s Executive Director. “We’re thrilled to introduce great and diverse LGBT books and authors to young people throughout New York City public schools.”
Teachers College will be responsible to provide LGBT professional development for teachers on June 9, 2016. Information about how to register for the workshops will be forthcoming. The day promises to be a groundbreaking event.
“The Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project at Teachers College is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide professional development for New York City teachers,” said Professor Melanie Brewster, the Project’s co-founder. “For more than 125 years, Teachers College has been a pioneer at the forefront of new programs in teaching and learning, and we thank Council Member Dromm for his unwavering support.”
The seven members of the Council’s LGBT Caucus (the largest in its history) applauded Dromm’s efforts.
“Through funding provided by the NYC Council and the leadership of Council Member Daniel Dromm, the Department of Education hired Jared Fox as its first LGBT Liaison,” said NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair of the NYC Council’s LGBT Caucus. “Having an LGBT Liaison for NYC Schools provides this City with a breath of fresh air. Our City is very diverse and made up of students whose identities are so vibrant and fluid. The schools in our City will now have a dedicated individual who will work to enrich the resources for administrators and young people when it comes to gender identity and sexual orientation. I look forward to working closely with Council Member Dromm and Jared to make sure schools have the support they need.”
“The hiring of an LGBT liaison at the Department of Education is a huge step forward,” said out gay Council Member Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan). “This has the potential to achieve great progress in our schools, particularly in the areas of bias-based harassment and acceptance of diversity. Jared Fox is in a position to find out exactly what efforts are currently underway in our schools, and what areas are in need of improvement. I applaud Council Member Dromm for the instrumental role he has played in the creation of this important position.”
“I thank Council Member Dromm for being our leader on this effort,” said openly gay NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn). “Having recently met Mr. Jared Fox, I saw firsthand the seriousness of his commitment to the vision of this position and we will do everything we can to support him and the DOE to make our school system a more inclusive environment and help undo years of neglect of the LGBT community. I am excited to witness a transformation of the DOE from the inside out with this new position and further efforts for systemic change for LGBT students, teachers, parents, and families.”
“The new position of DOE LGBT liaison, filled by Mr. Fox, institutionalizes the City’s commitment to ensuring LGBTQ students have an advocate in the school system,” said NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) who is also gay. “This shows LGBTQ students that the City’s DOE is in invested in their success and protection, and that they are valued for who they are.”
“I’m extremely pleased that the Department of Education has hired an LGBT liaison,” said out gay Council Member James Vacca (D-Bronx). “Schools must be safe spaces for all children. LGBT students face increased rates of bullying and are also more likely to be homeless than their non-LGBT counterparts. Having a specific point person for the LGBT community will make navigating these issues easier. Additionally, there needs to be an increased focus on LGBT history in the curriculum, as visibility is critically important to promote tolerance and acceptance. Jared Fox, with his experience in education and advocacy, will be uniquely equipped to achieve these goals. I thank Council Member Daniel Dromm for his leadership in securing the funds to make his employment possible.”
“I applaud the Department of Education for hiring its first LGBT Liaison, Jared Fox,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens), who is openly gay. “This historic step is a milestone in our city’s education system. I look forward to working with Jared and the DOE to strengthen local support networks in order to build up educational environments that allow all students to be proud of who they truly are. ”