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Des Moines (February 8th, 2018)- This morning, the education subcommittee met regarding HF 2176, the suicide prevention bill for Iowa educators. This bill mandates professional educators in Iowa to receive suicide prevention and trauma-informed training.  Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement.

“I appreciate the spirit and intent of this bill, however in its current form it does not address the underlying microaggressions facing adverse populations. This bill offers a one pillar solution while additional pillars are needed to effectively address and combat suicide rates in Iowa.” Monson said, “cultural humility must be a focal point any time we discuss trainings and strategy. We can provide as much training on prevention and trauma-informed care as we want, but until we have a comprehensive prevention plan which focuses on marginalized populations, microaggressions, and triggers, we are only putting a band aid on very serious wound.”

According to the Trevor Project’s research on suicide prevention (2017), each episode of LGBTQ victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. Additionally, LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. Monson added, “These troubling statistics are completely preventable. Comprehensive means we take an inclusive approach, starting with shifting the cultural of our schools and communities.”

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe Schools is Iowa’s leading LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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Des Moines (January 4th, 2018)- On Thursday, January 11th, 2018 Iowa Safe Schools will partner with Capital City Pride and the Des Moines Social Club to host Iowa’s first LGBTQ Gubernatorial Forum—the Rainbow Forum. All gubernatorial candidates have been invited to attend, with six confirmed to participate. Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement.

“This is a monumental opportunity for the LGBTQ community to come together and ask the future Governor how they will work to protect marginalized groups. Marriage equality was not the end of our legislative agenda, there are still countless issues which disproportionately effect and harm our community.” Monson added, “It is time that there are legislative protections for kids like Kedarie Johnson, access to quality mental healthcare for students who experience bullying/assault, and a ban on the prehistoric, life-threatening practice of conversion therapy. Historically, Iowa has been a progressive state when it comes to LGBTQ issues, it is time we get back to our roots and put our youth and quality of life back at the top of our agenda.”

The Rainbow Forum will be held at the Des Moines Social Club Kum & Go Theatre on January 11th, 2018 from 7-9pm. There will be a pre-forum drink reception with the candidates from 6-6:45. All are encouraged and welcome to attend. You can follow the Rainbow Forum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat with #RainbowForum2018. Iowa Safe Schools will also be streaming the event on Facebook Live. For more information on the Rainbow Forum please contact Scott@IowaSafeSchools.org or at 515-669-3476.

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe Schools is Iowa’s leading LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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There is a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, but Iowa Safe Schools is especially thankful for all of you who make serving LGBTQ youth in Iowa possible. Because of you, Iowa Safe Schools provided hundreds of affirming resources to kids in all 99 counties, supported 100+ GSAs (gay-straight alliances), served thousands of LGBTQ students through advocacy, victim services, and lifesaving resources, and has been able to lay the groundwork for preventing homelessness, labor/sex trafficking, and mental illness. We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to continuing to create safe and nurturing learning environments for LGBTQ youth!

To make a holiday gift to Iowa Safe Schools follow this link!

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This year alone, at least 24 transgender and gender nonconforming individuals have been murdered in the United States. Due to misgendering or lack of familial acceptance, it is estimated there are many more cases involving the murder of transgender individuals.There is a Transgender Day of Remembrance because of the large number of murders committed against the transgender community every year.

Transgender individuals experience higher rates of violent crime than their cisgender peers. One study estimates that half of all transgender individuals will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These violent crimes occur because transgender, gender nonconforming, and genderfluid individuals are targeted because of their identity.When the motive for a violent crime is based on the victim’s identity, that is when it becomes a hate crime. The motive is to cause harm to someone because of who they are.

Laws are a statement of the values we hold true as a society. The lack of inclusion of gender identity in our state’s hate crimes law is a statement to transgender Iowans that they are “less than.” Transgender Iowans are a part of every community in our state – they are our neighbors, they are our co-workers, they are our students, and they deserve to be protected just like anyone else from violent crimes.

In 2016, the Iowa Senate voted to include gender identity in Iowa’s hate crime statute. The bill did not move forward in the Iowa House. Tell Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature that it is time to add Gender Identity to Iowa’s Hate Crime Laws. Sign this petition and share! 

Iowa Legislature: Add Gender Identity to Iowa's Hate Crime Laws

  

This year alone, at least 24 transgender and gender nonconforming individuals have been murdered in the United States. Due to misgendering or lack of familial acceptance, it is estimated there are many more cases involving the murder of transgender individuals.There is a Transgender Day of Remembrance because of the large number of murders committed against the transgender community every year.

Transgender individuals experience higher rates of violent crime than their cisgender peers. One study estimates that half of all transgender individuals will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These violent crimes occur because transgender, gender nonconforming, and genderfluid individuals are targeted because of their identity.When the motive for a violent crime is based on the victim’s identity, that is when it becomes a hate crime. The motive is to cause harm to someone because of who they are.

Laws are a statement of the values we hold true as a society. The lack of inclusion of gender identity in our state’s hate crimes law is a statement to transgender Iowans that they are "less than." Transgender Iowans are a part of every community in our state – they are our neighbors, they are our co-workers, they are our students, and they deserve to be protected just like anyone else from violent crimes.

In 2016, the Iowa Senate voted to include gender identity in Iowa’s hate crime statute. The bill did not move forward in the Iowa House. Tell Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature that it is time to add Gender Identity to Iowa's Hate Crime Laws. Sign this petition and share!

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Des Moines, IA (October 25th, 2017)- Iowa Safe Schools will host Iowa’s first ever Transgender Education Summit on Friday, November 17th, 2017.  The summit will provide Iowa educators with the opportunity and tools to improve their school’s culture and climate surrounding transgender individuals. Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement.

“10% of transgender students will attempt suicide during their lifetimes. This Summit will provide tools and resources for educators, administrators and schools officials on creating safe and inclusive environments for transgender students across Iowa. Furthermore, this is monumental in equipping educators with increased mental health awareness amongst students and providing active solutions for at-risk individuals. At the end of the day, it is about keeping ALL of our kids safe no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The Transgender Education Summit will be held on Friday, November 17th, 2017 at the Embassy Suites in Des Moines. The Summit is in a workshop style format, with 12 experts presenting on topics from Mental Health in the Transgender Community to What (Not) to Say and When (Not) to Say It: Being an Ally in the Classroom. License renewal and other professional credits available. For more information please visit http://www.iowasafeschools.org/tes2017/ . Follow the Transgender Summit on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter with #TransSummit17

 

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe schools is the largest LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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Des Moines, IA (October 11th, 2017)- Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement on National Coming Out Day.

“National coming out day is a very important day for LGBTQ individuals across Iowa. This day signifies the inclusive communities and cultures we have worked so hard to develop across Iowa. It also serves as a very important time of reflection for our LGBTQ community, recognizing the countless individuals who weren’t as fortunate to have the opportunity to openly share their LGBTQ identity. No matter their age, gender identity or sexual orientation, students can and should celebrate today, a day dedicated to the significance of coming out as LGBTQ.”

Monson added, “When students proudly identify as LGBTQ, they will be met with the full support and resources Iowa Safe Schools has to offer. We will continue to build inclusive environments across Iowa and celebrate the success of our community. While today is a great celebration, there are still hundreds of kids across Iowa who are fearful of coming out and who need our support, and we will continue to tirelessly work for those kids.”

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe schools is the largest LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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On Saturday September 9th, Iowa Safe Schools held their 2nd annual GSA conference at the West Des Moines Learning and Resource Center. GSAs from every corner of the state came to learn about ways to improve and enhance their schools clubs. Experts shared important lessons with students on everything from fundraising to intersectionality and even forming group bylaws. It was a packed house, filled with 100+ students anxious to make an impact at their schools. Special Guests included: Sandy Barker- Carlisle High School, Nate Monson- Executive Director, Iowa Safe Schools.

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Des Moines, IA (August 28th, 2017)- Iowa Safe Schools is welcoming back Iowa educators with an opportunity to improve their school’s culture. The 2017 Bullying Remediation Symposium is designed to create safer and more welcoming school environments for all students by providing educators with effective intervention strategies. Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement.

“Simply talking about bullying is not enough, with over 50% of students reporting they’ve been bullied with little to no intervention, we must provide educators with effective tools and strategies to intervene,” said Monson. “Shifting the culture of a school is not a quick fix, it takes a dedicated effort over time to produce safe and nurturing learning environments. Every student deserves the same opportunity to learn, grow, and be successful, and it starts with ensuring their mental health is equally as important as their physical wellbeing”.

The Bullying Remediation Symposium will be held on Friday, September 15th, 2017 at the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines. The Symposium is a workshop style format, with 11 experts presenting on topics from How the Law Protects Students to Effective Safety Planning. License renewal and other professional credits available. For more information please visit http://www.iowasafeschools.org/bullying-remediation-symposium/ . Follow the Bullying Symposium on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter with #ProtectKidsStopBullying

 

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe schools is the largest LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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Statement on President Donald Trump’s Tweets Regarding Transgender Servicemembers: Delete Your Account

DES MOINES, IOWA (July 26, 2017)- Today, Iowa’s leading LGBTQ organization issued the following statement in response President Donald Trump’s misinformed and mean-spirited tweets regarding transgender servicemembers.

Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director, Nate Monson, who is available for interviews, released the following statement:

“Transgender servicemembers have always been a part of the United States Military.  President Trump’s tweets disparage and demean the sacrifices transgender servicemembers have made for our country.  The message that transgender youth cannot serve their country is wrong.  No one should be denied the ability to serve their country regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, or gender identity. President Trump should delete his account and stop bullying the transgender community.”

About Iowa Safe Schools

Iowa Safe schools is the largest LGBTQ statewide organization and provides safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.

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Dear Legislator,

You recently received letter from the National Taskforce for Therapy Equality inaccurately and dangerously telling you conversion therapy is a wholesome approach for people whom wish to become “ex-gay”. Not only was this letter extremely offensive to survivors of conversion therapy, but the letter demonizes those putting safeguards in place to protect children from unwanted and coerced abuse. Iowa Safe Schools serves as the leading voice from kids, families, and professionals across Iowa who are subjected to discrimination, bullying, and assault— and we will not let the dangers of conversion therapy be silenced by a misleading propaganda piece stating being LGBTQ is a choice.

Let’s take a moment to set the record straight, and not with alternative or misleading facts. Being gay is not a choice. Having to continually justify the right to exist as an equal because of sexual orientation is demeaning and un-American. Protecting constitutional rights and safeguards for the LGBTQ community is made unnecessarily more difficult because of organizations like the National Taskforce for Therapy Equality. They are advocating as victims of faith-based conversion therapy and fundraising off of blanket statements attacking equal rights groups. Do not be confused, the real victims are children being forcibly coerced into conversion therapy.

Source- National Association of Social Workers: “transformational ministries are fueled by stigmatization of lesbians and gay men, which in turn produces the social climate that pressures some people to seek change in sexual orientation. No data demonstrate that reparative or conversion therapies are effective, and in fact they may be harmful.”

Source- American Medical Association: “Our AMA… opposes, the use of ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy that is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her homosexual orientation.”

Source- American Psychiatric Association: “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Source- American Psychological Association: “the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation…”

Both Republicans and Democrats have taken the lead on ending dangerous conversion therapy practices in several states:

Governor Chris Christie, “..on issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards. The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including, but not limited to, depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.”

Governor Kate Brown, “There are many things that young people need, but breaking them down based on their sexual or gender identity is not one of them — and in fact, it’s inexcusable. Our young people deserve acceptance, support, and love. To the young people who question their identities, suffer from bullying, or struggle with what it means to come out, today is your day. Your voices have been heard.”

Iowa Safe schools is asking Iowa to join the movement to ban conversion therapy, solidifying our role as a state who stands up and fights for what is right. We hope you recognize the serious nature of these fraudulent and deceptive acts by the National Taskforce for Therapy equality and take steps to ensure that conversion therapy is banned in Iowa before more children are hurt by these dangerous practices. Will you help make Iowa the 9th (5th republican led) state to ban conversion therapy?

Respectfully yours,

Nate A. Monson
Executive Director, Iowa Safe Schools

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