Peer Advocates for Safe Schools (PASS) program
According to the National School Climate survey, nearly 6 in 10 (63.5%) of students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation. In Southwest, PA, this statistic is something student volunteers at GLSEN strive to eliminate. In 2010, the Peer Advocates for Safe Schools (PASS) program was created to train students to create safe school environments for youth using skills learned with extensive leadership training and tools to advocate for the LGBTQ community. Bullying and unsafe environments occur on all levels, especially within the LGBTQ community. Whether it be in school or through social media- discrimination that occurs to anyone is simply unacceptable.
The PASS program offers a really unique opportunity to gain leadership experience through a direct volunteer setting. Youth help coordinate programs such as A Day of Silence and a Pride Prom to spread the word on what it means to really feel “safe” no matter your identity or sexual orientation. Student leaders become advocates in schools and the community to ultimately get a better understanding of what it means to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Advocacy is a major focus on the PASS efforts within Western, PA schools. Team members learn skills and techniques to advocate for themselves, and the LGBTQ community to target bullying and discrimination, as well as collaborate with other Pittsburgh LGBT organizations.
Below, read the story of one our student leaders, Ryan, as he tells you why the PASS program can offer great leadership skills while working towards a goal of anti-bullying in the LGBTQ community and within the school system.
“My name is Ryan and I have been working with GLSEN’S PASS program since 2012. I applied for a position on the PASS team shortly after I came out of the closet. I wanted to be a part of the team because I felt like I was the only gay kid in the Pittsburgh area. I wanted to be able to meet new people who had the same views and passions that I have. The PASS program exceeded my expectations. Not only was I able to make new friends but the PASS program gave me a sense of community. I found support from the adult coordinators, and from my peers on the team. PASS also made me feel like I was giving back to my community through the volunteering we did.
If anybody was looking for a volunteer opportunity, a way to give back to the LGBT community, or even just looking to work with like-minded teens; I would recommend the PASS program. “
For more information about the PASS program or to see how you can be involved, feel free to contact Kayla Rodabaugh, PASS coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org .