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April Newsletter: SBPD trainings to better serve LGBTQ community

First Time Ever Extensive LGBTQ Police Department Trainings by David Selberg

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Three years ago, an extensive LGBTQ community lead by UCSB Professor, Dr. Tania Israel, her research team, and Pacific Pride Foundation (PPF) highlighted fears among LGBTQ communities involving safety, harassment and violence. Since then, PPF has been in conversation with Santa Barbara Police Chief Sanchez to both address these concerns and build bridges with local law enforcement. As part of this effort, the Chief was willing to work with PPF to provide training to his department. Calling other LGBT Centers across the country, I was surprised to find that training police officers and departments to better serve the LGBTQ community is extremely rare. I quickly turned to Just Communities to help create a curriculum and then implement it. Their team was absolutely amazing and the result was nothing short of groundbreaking.

Working in partnership with PPF, Dr. Israel, and several SBPD officers, and with the input from hundreds of community members SBPD patrol officers Just Communities developed training designed to help the SBPD work more effectively with LGBTQ members of the Santa Barbara community.

In November and December of 2011, every sworn SB Police officer, many unsworn staff, and members of Sheriff, Highway Patrol, Probation and other police departments in the County attended this training facilitated by Just Communities' Program Manager Alan Goff and Executive Director Jarrod Schwartz.

Well before the 1969 Stonewall Riots marked beginning of the LGBT civil rights movement, the LGBT community endured decades of horrible anti-gay abuse, brutal police roundups, the destroying of people's lives in the newspapers and so much more. As a result, LGBT communities have traditionally never felt protected or safe in approaching law enforcement. These trainings covered such 'basics' as respectful language and communication when engaging the LGBTQ communities, deepening understanding of the daily realities LGBTQ youth and adults often face, role-playing among officers with real-life scenarios involving bullying, hate crimes, traffic stops and more.

We are currently working on next steps with the established partnership, which include LGBTQ and Police town forums and new outreach to other law enforcement groups in the County for expanded trainings. In addition, the Chief was so impressed with training and the positive reaction it received from the officers that he is currently advocating for the inclusion of the LGBTQ curriculum to the Southern California Police Academy in Oxnard.

Most importantly, the training has already had a powerful impact. Following a recent horrific New Year's Eve gay hate crime in downtown Santa Barbara, Police detectives have shared with me directly how the Just Communities LGBTQ training has helped them think about things they wouldn't have thought about prior to participating and, as a result, how it has helped them do their job more effectively with greater sensitivity to the needs of the individuals and community affected by the incident.

By David Selberg, Executive Director Pacific Pride Foundation

Institute for Equity in Education (IEE 2011) Graduates Facilitate Staff Conversations After Disconcerting Article is Published About Their School

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IEE graduates Kristin Corpus and Paola Rodrigues used Just Communities' "4 R's Framework" (Relevance, Rigor, Relationships, Racial & Economic Justice) to frame a timely discussion at their school. A newspaper article titled "Harding's Test Scores Take Off" (Santa Barbara Independent, September 3, 2011) was published regarding the 57 points increase in the Academic Performance Index (API) score at their Harding University Partnership School (a Santa Barbara Westside elementary school).

When the principal and some of the teachers read the article, they were disturbed by several over-generalizations made about their studen

ts' families. Comments quoted in the article included: "Typically, parents who are poor use avoidant goals . . . They focus on what they don't want to have happened. . ." "They [the parents] come in force from all around the neighborhood, pushing strollers . . ." The article contained quotes from professors, some parents, administrators, and teachers. None of the people quoted was Latino, yet they were describing and talking about the Latino parents at Harding.

Kristin and Paola offered to lead a discussion with the staff about the feelings and thoughts that had come up. They framed the discussion around the "4 R's"-Relevance, Rigor, Relationships, and Racial Justice. The 4 R's are a core part of Just Communities' curriculum for working with school to improve student achievement and to close the achievement gap. Kristin and Paola started by having everyone read the newspaper article and circle the words that stood out to them and think about what it would be like to read from the perspective of the Harding parents. The staff talked about their students and challenged the language used in the article.

Principal Sally Kingston described the meeting as very healing and empowering for the staff. Following the staff discussion, Kristin and Paola posted three charts on the staff workroom door-A list of the "4 R's", the Cycle of Oppression, and the Cycle of Liberation (see photo) as a reminder to the staff of their work together.

Antioch Credits

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Dear IEE Graduates,

I hope this message finds you doing well.

We would like to share with you an exciting collaboration between Just Communities andAntioch University in Santa Barbara. A part of our new partnership is the opportunity for IEE graduates from the years 2007 forward to receive 3 graduate credits through Antioch University's Master of Arts in Education degree program.

To learn more, please contact Ana Becerra

10 for 10 Challenge

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Help send a Central Coast student to CLI 2012 by accepting the 10 for $10 Challenge!

If you have been touched by the Community Leadership Institute or know someone who has, this is one way to help make sure that any student can attend this year's program.

Simply ask 10 of your friends, family, or colleagues to help support our organization by each making a donation of at least $10.00 to send a student to CLI. That's it! Just $10.00 per person and you can help us meet our overall goal of $1,800.00 raised through the 10 for $10 Challenge!

If you're interested in accepting the challenge please contact Elizabeth Weinstein at 805-966-2063

Want to be part of CLI 2012?

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Dear friends and allies to youth, will you help support a new generation of agents for social change this summer? We are still in need of a core number of dedicated Youth Allies, adults who can support youth at Just Communities' CommUnity Leadership Institute (CLI). Youth Allies (YAs) are adult staff members, age 22 and over, who serve as positive adult role models for both the Institute participants and younger staff members (Youth Leaders). Youth Allies demonstrate what positive and mutually supportive youth/adult relationships are like.

If you have a commitment to social justice on all fronts, a passion for building leadership for change, and a desire to mentor and learn from youth, please consider becoming a Youth Ally at CLI! This year's Institute will take place August 4th - 11th. Contact the Just Communities office with questions or to find out how to apply.

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