Published : Thursday, November 29, 2018 | 1:01 PM
Western Justice Center, at 55 South Grand Avenue, launched the campaign through Global Giving Foundation in order to raise funds that would help them pursue a Creating Bias-Free Classrooms teacher-training program. The program aims to equip educators with the tools necessary so they could build inclusive learning environments for students targeted by homophobia.
“What we do is we create a living learning laboratory for teachers and school administrators and school counselors, folks who are working with kids to be able to explore conscious or unconscious bias in a nonjudgmental way and work on figuring out how to do things differently in classroom setting,” Elissa Barrett, Executive Director of the Western Justice Center, said. “We’re doing a special campaign this year to raise money for our anti-bullying training to help stop homophobia.”
The Creating Bias-Free Classrooms program will be using high school student as actors to present classroom scenarios for the teachers in the program to work with. The Center is collaborating with “Modern Family” and Broadway actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson who will be acting in some of these scenarios.
Ferguson will be on a video produced by Western Justice Center that will encourage teachers and kids to write and say they want the program in their school to make the campus a safer and more welcoming place.
“We will, if we can, raise enough money to match the number of schools that are interested, and then we’ll go to all those schools,” Barrett said. “And so the more money we raise, the more schools we can go to.”
Barrett said they have nearly 1,000 children who’ve gone through a service learning program and will be participating in the training.
Barrett, who grew up in Texas and identifies herself as bisexual, went through a similar training before she joined Western Justice Center in Pasadena.
“We did a training for all of the lead teachers and administrators in the Culver City school district, and I was moved to tears because I thought all the teachers were so engaged and compassionate with one another,” she relates. “(The teachers were) really eager to figure out how to navigate this territory while respecting the viewpoints of all the students, including those with religious views about homosexuality and how to create an environment where people can disagree and still be civil with one another. We can protect kids from being bullied.”
Barrett said the campaign hosted on the Global Giving website runs through Saturday, December 1.
Western Justice Center believes that schools are obligated to ensure that no student is harassed based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also believes that teachers, who play a crucial role in preventing and stopping homophobic bullying, do not get adequate training on how to intervene.
Creating Bias-Free Classrooms offers a response to that challenge by providing middle and high school teachers with tangible solutions to harassment, bullying and hate-behavior aimed at students who identify as, or are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
To give to the fundraiser on Global Giving, visit www.globalgiving.org/projects/creating-bias-free-classrooms.
To learn more about Western Justice Center and their Creating Bias-Free Classrooms program, visit www.westernjustice.org.