Date: April 6, 2006
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
April 6, 2006, University Park - Some students in high school can feel isolated for highly personal reasons. The challenge for every educational institution is creating a safe and tolerant environment in which students learn, share, and grow.
Or it should be, according to Dr. Hugh Crethar, Associate Professor of school counseling in the College of Education at Governors State University in University Park.
Crethar believes that assisting educational institutions, including GSU, to reach the level of knowledge and understanding that ensures a safe learning environment for all students is critical.
“Often issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are either ignored or seen as too problematic to address. This creates an intolerant and potentially harmful school atmosphere. Students can not learn or reach their potential if they feel disconnected from or threatened by their environment.”
To enable schools to achieve greater understanding and effectiveness, Crethar and GSU are hosting a free, unique, and far-reaching workshop designed to give educators the knowledge and tools they need to create a better, safer learning environment.
“Safe Schools Training: Improving the Academic Climate Around Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” will be held on April 20 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at GSU.
“We are inviting the faculty and staff of the university and school counselors, administrators, and educators from area colleges and high schools to join us in this unique learning opportunity,” says Crethar.
Although this is potentially a volatile issue, Crethar believes, “Educators at all levels need greater understanding. Our job as a university is to provide the information we all need to do our jobs better.”
According to Crethar, “We want to open the conversation and work on creating a safe and accepting learning environment where gender identity and affectional orientation are not issues. Expanding everyone’s understanding and knowledge creates a more harmonious and productive environment.”
Participants in the workshop will learn from local experts, network and problem-solve with other educators, and receive resources and tools to share with colleagues. Specific workshop topics include terms and definitions in sexuality and gender identity, a statistical review of affectional orientation and gender identity of youth in high schools, colleges, and universities, and effective methods of improving school climate.
“This workshop does not just define a situation. It also provides participants with tools and resources they can take back to their schools to effect positive changes,” says Crethar.
In addition to GSU, sponsors of the workshop include the Metropolitan Institute for Leadership in Education at GSU, the GSU Student Life Unit, Creating Safe Schools for Illinois, the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation, University of Illinois at Chicago, and DePaul University.
For more information or to register for the workshop, call (708) 534-4552.