Allies in Action is a group formed by SUNY Morrisville Liberty Partnerships Program. Allies in Action was created in 2015 to support LGBTQ youth and their allies. After hearing from our students that education, support and a place to feel accepted as a LGBTQ youth or ally was serious need in our schools we quickly started developing plans to create that safe place. The GLISEN National School Climate Survey “consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate” (GLSEN.org). A Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is one way SUNY Morrisville Liberty Partnerships Program supports and empowers students to be successful.
On the third Thursday of each month students from each of our LPP districts come together to support one another, gain knowledge and spread awareness around important topics. In collaboration with Family Planning of South Central our Allies group has hosted guest speakers from community agencies such as Identity Youth Center of Binghamton NY. Students attended the film showing “Fagbug Nation” and had the opportunity to meet with the Director, Erin Davies, to talk about her journey in the Rainbow bug. The Allies group has discussed and brainstormed solutions for topics like “the unique challenges facing LGBTQ youth in their home, school and other environments” (thetrevorproject.org). Challenges such as fear and discrimination shown in the media surrounding gender identity and civil rights. To address this Allies in Action students started a Social Media Awareness Campaign called the Love and Acceptance Project. The campaign featured students from each of our schools holding up signs depicting what Love and Acceptance means to them.
SUNY Morrisville’s Allies group has also focused their attention on gaining education around reducing self-harm and developing coping strategies. According to thetrevorproject.org “LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.” Along with spreading awareness about the rate of suicide in LGB youth, Allies in Action has partnered with agencies in the area like Chenango County Mental health to learn about the services available to them and how to reach out when help is needed.
Over the past four year our group has grown and continued to look for ways to provide a safe and accepting place for LGBTQ youth to come together. As our meetings start again this year we hope to refocus and look for new opportunities to spread awareness and become better allies for our schools and communities.