<< It's not easy being gay

By Sara Hahn, 17, Mayfield Senior School
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Hatred towards gays can be depressing—but we don’t have to accept it. At the Make It Real conference, the students brainstormed on ways that we can prevent hate and harassment:

1. Demonstrate. Petition, and show examples of harassment to your school administration.

2. Take surveys, and bring them to your school board; get students, both gay and straight, to discuss how they have observed and experienced hate at their school.

3. Another powerful tool in making a difference: PARENTS. School administrators will generally give parents their time and attention and parents will be able to communicate with principals, school boards, etc., on an adult level.

4. Notify school administrators that if discrimination or hate crimes continue, you will alert the media. No school wants to be viewed negatively by the public eye. However, it is always essential that students be rational and reasonable, and be prepared to face difficulty and possibly opposition in the struggle for fair treatment.

5. Use AB 537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, which is an amendment to the California Education Code. It states that it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. If you experience harassment, report it to a school administrator (not just a teacher). Then file a complaint to the school board. A parent or student can file the complaint. The school has 60 days to investigate. The student can appeal if the school doesn’t investigate, or makes an inappropriate decision. The student has 15 days to appeal. The case then goes to the California Dept. of Education, which has 60 days to investigate the claim.