Zebra Coalition partners with Orange schools for anti-bullying education

By : Susan Clary
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ZebraBully1Orlando – The Zebra Coalition is teaming up with 102 Orange County schools to fight bullying.

Zebra is a Central Florida-based network of organizations that supports LGBT youth, and they announce Oct. 23 that they’ll work through Student Assistance and Family Empowerment (SAFE) on an anti-bullying campaign for middle, high and charter schools within the district beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to learn without being subjected to harassment,” said Zebra Coalition Director Dexter Foxworth. “LGBTQ youth can feel very alone in the school environment and I believe that our partnership with Orange County Public Schools helps send a message to those kids that they are not alone.”

Zebra officials point to a study that showed the vast majority of LGBT students in Florida regularly hear homophobic remarks, sexist remarks and negative remarks about gender expression.

ZebraBully2The National School Climate Survey, conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reported that many students in Florida have been victimized at school and most of these incidents were not reported to authorities.

The Zebra Coalition reached out the principals at the various schools about hanging up anti-bullying posters with unique QR codes that direct students, parents and teachers to a website with information, said Jason Smith, Senior Manager for Public Relations with OCPS.

The Coalition will also work with clubs, including the Gay Straight Alliance, in various schools to provide support and training.

The Zebra Coalition is a network of social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities. Member organizations provide essential services for LGBT youth in Central Florida.

Orange County Public Schools will hold a session on how to keep their children safe from bullies. In recognition of Bullying and Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the Parent Academy is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct 26 at University High School, 2450 Cougar Way.

Lunch will be provided and activities for children. The event is free and open to the public. To register, visit www.parentacademy.ocps.net or call the Parent Academy office at 407.317.3200, Ext. 2707.

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