Response to Register Star 5/14/16 article, “Transgender issue a non-issue in area schools”. by Sara Dunn and Greg Hudson

The “transgender issue a non-issue in area schools” is anything but a non-issue. While it is certainly encouraging to read the various responses from key Columbia County school district administrators on the subject of equitable access to facilities for transgender and gender non-conforming students, it is sadly untrue and misleading. It is also important to realize that this discussion and issue is most certainly not just about bathrooms and locker rooms. This goes far beyond that.

It is this systemic disconnect between what is presumed to be compliance with state and federal mandated policies and the reality of life as a vulnerable, bullied, and unsupported LGBT student.

As advocates for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) students in Columbia County, the Hudson Pride Foundation (HPF) has met with continued inaction and disinterest by many of the school districts when it comes to implementing required policies and procedures as it relates to the “Dignity for All Students Act” and The State Education Department’s “Guidance to School Districts for Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment For Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” released July 2015. The new Federal guidelines regarding the treatment of transgender students in public schools do indeed mirror those already in place in New York State public schools, however, we can point to several instances where we have been approached by students who are still today mercilessly bullied by fellow students for being LGBT or having LGBT parents, while teachers and administrators turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the ongoing discrimination and abuse.

It is disturbing to read these cavalier declarations of delusion as various area schools claim that everything is great, all policies are in place and all teachers and administrators have been trained. Many schools in Columbia County are not, as the article might lead one to believe, safe and nurturing places for each and every student. It is this systemic disconnect between what is presumed to be compliance with state and federal mandated policies and the reality of life as a vulnerable, bullied, and unsupported LGBT student.

Chatham Central School District Superintendent’s statement that “we have a priority in Chatham that no student feels excluded” is in direct contradiction to the reality that several LGBT and gender non-conforming students in Chatham High School have historically faced. Students have been denied inclusion, denied a safe, non-hostile environment, denied the right to form a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) and have been faced with harassment by fellow students and, in at least two known cases, by school administrators.

In the Hudson City School District, we know that the middle and high schools are not safe spaces for students. We know there is continued and systematic bullying and harassment of students known or perceived to be LGBT or gender non-conforming. Some Hudson high school students have sought refuge in the very bathrooms in question so that they can eat lunch without harassment from students in the cafeteria.

Teachers, administrators, parents and each and every student must commit to an open and on-going dialogue regarding the urgent need to create safe bully-free learning spaces for ALL students. Curriculums need to be updated to include education regarding LGBT issues. Ongoing faculty and administrative staff training must be a cornerstone of every school in every school district. This includes all schools – elementary, middle schools, and high schools.

"I think that it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are all loved, and that they’re protected and that their dignity is affirmed."

-President Obama, New York Times, 5/16/16

Some day, the transgender issue will be a “non-issue”, but that day has not yet arrived in Columbia County.


The 2016 Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship applications are due soon!

$1,000 scholarship awarded to one (1) high school senior student selected by the Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship Committee.

Each individual student selected as an HPF scholarship winner is eligible to receive a maximum lifetime award of up to $4,000.

The Hudson Pride Foundation scholarship award was created as a way to reward community involvement and encourage Columbia County students to pursue a college education. Each year, one Columbia County School District High School graduating senior, who has demonstrated a real commitment to promoting and supporting LGBT equal rights and made a positive difference in the LGBT community in some measurable way, will receive $1,000 for each year of college (up to 4 years).

Scholarships are also available to previous winners who are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university or other post-secondary institution and has maintained a 3.0 GPA or better.

Submit your application today!

Deadline for submission is Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Dining Out For Life®

Dining Out For Life® makes supporting the Alliance for Positive Health (formerly the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York) as easy as going out to your favorite restaurant. Dine out at participating restaurants on Thursday, April 28th, and a percentage of the price of your meal will be donated to the Alliance for Positive Health to provide assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS and cutting edge prevention services in your community.

Come join the Hudson Pride Foundation at Mexican Radio in Hudson. The HPF is proud to be the 2016 Ambassador at Mexican Radio for this important fundraiser.

All you have to donate is your appetite!


Hudson Pride Foundation Announces New Partnership

In an effort to provide services and resources to the growing LGBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer) elder population in Columbia County, the Hudson Pride Foundation Board of Directors has announced a collaboration with the City of Hudson’s Office of the Aging Commissioner, Amanda Henry. Similarly, as part of this effort to support this population segment, the Foundation also announced its intent to partner with SAGE, the Service & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders organization. It is the goal of HPF to become a SAGE Affiliate and join several dozen other active and vibrant nationwide affiliates.

The Foundation is quick to point out that its original mission–encouraging and supporting high school students in their efforts to achieve–will not change. HPF donates $4,000 annually to Columbia County students (four $1,000 scholarships awarded to freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students, respectively) and to date, the Foundation has awarded $18,000 in scholarships to those who have demonstrated a real commitment to promoting and supporting LGBTQ equal rights. Applications for scholarship for 2016 are due on June 1st and can be found online here.

Moving forward, the Foundation will continue to work with highly effective partners (including The Hetrick Martin Institute in Manhattan and the Pride Center Of The Capital Region in Albany) to broaden the reach into local schools to provide rich, in-depth LGBTQ Cultural Competency and Cultural Humility training for teachers and staff.

Last week, the Foundation was honored for its good works at the Hudson Valley LGTBQ Community Center’s 2016 Gala. Accepting the award for the Foundation, Executive Director Martha Harvey said the group was honored to be recognized among the many LGBTQ organizations in area, noting that while HPF’s core mission has not changed, the overall strategy has matured and that continued community support, recognition and donations are vital to current and future operations.

The Hudson Pride Foundation is run by a volunteer board. Its success depends entirely on generous donations made by local businesses and individuals. For the past six years, the Foundation has organized the annual Hudson Pride parade and festival (along with producing The Little Apple resource guide since 2012). While it looks forward to regrouping around these endeavors in the near future, board members say the Foundation is taking a break this year, as it needs an infusion of energy from new participants who wish to be shareholders in these events and activities. Those interested in volunteering time and skills for the ongoing Speaker Series, Educational Symposium and Elder Outreach should contact Martha Harvey

The main mission of the Hudson Pride Foundation is to raise money for our scholarships. Going to college is expensive, and while our scholarships will not cover all of the costs or even most of the costs it will at least cover some of the costs. Every little bit helps. Why do we focus on education? Because an educated mind is more likely to embrace equality, fight for justice, and push back against prejudice, bigotry and misinformation. An educated mind is an open mind. We strive to open more minds. -The Hudson Pride Foundation

Sam Engel
2015 Graduate of Chatham High School. He will be attending Gettysburg College in the fall.

Sam will be receiving "The Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship sponsored by The Barlow".

 

Nick Ganey
2013 graduate of Hudson High School. Nick will be receiving his THIRD Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship.

This year, Nick will be the recipient of the "Hudson Pride Foundation Volunteer Scholarship" presented by the Hudson Pride Foundation Board of Directors. He will be entering into his Junior Year at Boston University.

Amber Harris
2015 graduate of Hudson High School. She will be attending the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the fall.

Amber will be receiving the "Hetrick Martin Institute/Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship" that will be presented by Mr. Thomas Krever, CEO of the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Lauren Borosky
2012 graduate of New Lebanon High School. Lauren graduated from Siena College in 2015 as Valedictorian! (and she did it in 3 years!) She will be starting her Masters program at Sage College in the fall.

Lauren will be receiving the Hudson Pride Foundation "Sky Painter Scholarship", sponsored by Carla Sadoff & Fidelity

Past Hudson Pride Foundation Scholarship Winners

2014: Lauren Borosky, Nick Ganey, Rachael Seider, Claire Villanova
2013: Lauren Borosky, Charlie Ferrusi, Nick Ganey, Rachael Seider
2012: Lauren Borosky, Charlie Ferrusi, Rachael Seider
2011: Charlie Ferrusi
2010: Charlie Ferrusi, Timothy Howard

To date, The Hudson Pride Foundation has given out $18k in scholarships!  Thank you to all of you for your support.


Hudson Pride just won Columbia County's Best Community Event Summer.

The event was organized and sponsored by the Register-Star, Chatham Courier and the chamber. Newspaper readers and chamber members voted for their favorite businesses online and by ballot in 90 categories of including the best of community, night life, arts and culture, shopping, food and drink and services.


The Dignity for All Students Act

As advocates for young LGBT kids and youth in general, we are strong advocates for the Dignity for All Students act that was passed & implemented state-wide in July 2012. We are posting this 2013 updated DFAS amendment to encourage schools & parents to enforce this law.

ALL students should feel safe in school. ALL NY schools must abide by & enforce this law. Kids are counting on us to have their backs. Let's not let them down.

Link toNew York State’s Dignity for All Students Act
The Dignity Act
Guidance for Local Implementation


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We would love to hear from you.

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