Monday, March 28, 2016

LGBT Youth and Their Sense of Safety

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
We know that safety and school climate is becoming an important measure of school quality. We also know that physical and emotional safety are critical features of quality youth programs. In fact, safety is the number one standard of California's Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs.

But, physical and emotional safety is not enjoyed by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) youth. According to Evie Blad, an Education Week staff writer, "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students are the targets of bullying, harassment, and disproportionately high discipline rates at school, research suggests. But without consistently collected, reliable, large-scale sources of data, it's difficult to track the extent of those problems or the effectiveness of proposed solutions.

But we think we have sufficient data to begin this conversation. In 2013, the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducted a school climate study. This study examined the bias within schools towards LGBT youth. While afterschool programs are not responsible for the actions and policies of schools, the findings of this report shed light on what LGBT youth experience in their schools before coming to afterschool programs. Below are a few of the findings from this report.

School Safety
  • 37.8% of LGBT youth felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
  • Over a third avoided gender-segregated spaces in school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable (bathrooms: 35.4%, locker rooms: 35.3%). 

Anti-LGBT Remarks at School
  • 56.4% heard negative remarks about gender expression (not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”) frequently or often.
  • A third (33.1%) heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people, like “tranny” or “he/ she,” frequently or often.
  • 55.5% of youth reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.

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Harassment and Assault at School
  • Compared to other LGBT youth, transgender, genderqueer, and other non-cisgender youth faced the most hostile school climates.
  • 55.2% of LGBT youth were verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 11.4% were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 22.7% were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their gender expression. 

School Performance
  • LGBT youth were more than three times as likely to have missed school in the past month than those who experienced lower levels (58.6% vs. 18.2%);
  • LGBT youth were twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education (e.g., college or trade school; 8.2% vs. 4.2%); and
  • LGBT youth had higher levels of depression and lower levels of self-esteem.

A Separate Report on Antibullying Policies Found That:
  • Of the 70.5% of U.S. school districts with antibullying policies, a minority
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    (14.1%) enumerated protections for youth based upon their gender identity and/or gender expression.
  • When accounting for all U.S. school districts, i.e., those with and without antibullying policies: Three in ten school districts enumerated sexual orientation, and not gender identity/expression.
  • In states with antibullying laws, 60.3% of districts were not providing protections to youth based on gender identity/expression in their anti-bullying policies.
  • Nearly six in ten (58.4%) LGBT youth were not receiving explicit protections from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression in their school districts (i.e., their districts did not have LGB or LGBT-inclusive policies).

Monday, March 21, 2016

Announcing the How Kids Learn Foundation and Wallace Foundation Survey

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Over the last five years, we have sponsored an annual How Kids Learn conference. This year, we are sponsoring a number of How Kids Learn Speaker’s Forums.

Temescal Associates/LIAS is proud to announce that we have created a new non-profit entitled, the How Kids Learn Foundation. This was done to expand our reach and the effectiveness of our educational efforts. This will also allow us to diversify our funders. 

The HKL Foundation is dedicated to improving the effectiveness of settings that support the education and healthy development of youth. This includes schools and out-of-school time programs. 

The Foundation will provide educational activities such as Speaker's Forums, trainings, and conferences for organizations that promote the healthy development of youth.

We have assembled a prestigious board to help guide our activities and will provide an update as we go forward. 

The Wallace Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the afterschool movement. The Foundation is currently conducting market research to better understand Policymaker, K-12 Public School Leader and Afterschool Leader opinions about trends relating to desired outcomes of K-12 education and afterschool programs. They are especially interested in the importance of social emotional learning.

We urge you to take the time to complete this survey. It is important that those
who understand the work of afterschool and summer programs provide their unique perspectives on this work. This survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will be strictly confidential and not be attributed to you or your organization. To begin the survey, please click here.

You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 
  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spreading the Youth Development Gospel

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Temescal Associates and the LIAS Project are committed to promoting youth development and supporting and influencing the field of afterschool and summer programs. This comes in the form of webinars, authoring written pieces, trainings, and the hosting of Speaker's Forums and conferences.

Many of our efforts are done in collaboration with other thinkers and organizations. Below are some of the fruits of our labor. 

Stacey Daraio,
Temescal Associates
Webinar – Creating the conditions for social and emotional learning

This webinar offers a great discussion on best practices for encouraging social and emotional development in afterschool and summer learning programs. Speakers include Deb Moroney and Jaime Singer from American Institutes for Research (AIR), Stacey Daraio from Temescal Associates, and Aleah Rosario from California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC). 

Publication – AfterSchool Today: Supportive Afterschool Learning Environments

This Winter 2016 edition from the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) contains a number of articles on social emotional learning and practices that promote it. 

It contains an article authored by Ruth Obel-Jorgensen (CalSAC) and Sam Piha (Temescal Associates). The article is focused on Expanded Learning 360°/365: Skills for Success in School, Work, and Life and our paper, Student Success Comes Full Circle: Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities

Publication - Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases

"In recent years, digital badging systems have become a credible means through which learners can establish portfolios and articulate knowledge and skills for both academic and professional settings. Digital Badges in Education provides the first comprehensive overview of this emerging tool." -

Temescal Associates and the Center for Digital Badges authored a chapter for this book entitled Afterschool and Digital Badges: Recognizing Learning Where It Happens. This book will be released in April 2016. 

You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 

  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Understanding Gender Identity in Young People

Sam Piha
By Sam Piha

There is a growing awareness in our society that gender is more than the sex that is assigned at birth. In the popular media, we have been introduced to Caitlin Jenner and followed the challenges as portrayed in the Netflix TV series, Transparent

The issues of gender identity and children have been well chronicled on the Public Broadcasting NewsHour and its cousin, Frontline. These can be accessed by clicking on the images below.

Increasingly, schools are struggling in the courts to fully address the rights of transgender youth: how to address the needs to access restrooms and locker rooms that are based on gender and engage in activities in alignment with a youth’s affirmed gender. 

As gender identity is now being better understood, leaders of youth program leaders are urged to make themselves aware of this new knowledge. This new knowledge is especially important to ensure that youth program leaders provide a safe place for all youth. It is important to note that many of the solutions involve efforts to reduce gender bias and stereotyping – something that is good for all youth and their program leaders. 

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As explained by Gender Spectrum, gender is not a binary concept with two rigidly fixed options. Instead, gender is a “multidimensional array of possibilities” comprised of one’s biology, gender expression, and gender identity. Then again, this concept is not new. Documented by countless historians and anthropologists, non- binary gender diversity exists all over the world.

However, society often views gender as binary. Our understanding of gender is influenced by upbringing, culture, peers, schools, community, media and religion and starts the minute we are born. Even toys, colors, and clothes are assigned a gender. As stated by Gender Spectrum, “through a combination of social conditioning and personal preference, by age three most children prefer activities and exhibit behaviors typically associated with their sex.”
We will expand on gender identity with several posts. We will begin with some important terminology. 

Gender Spectrum offers the following terminology:
  • Biological/Anatomical Sex: The physical structure of one’s reproductive organs that is used to assign sex at birth. Given the potential variation in all of these, biological sex must be seen as a spectrum or range of possibilities rather than a binary set of two options.
  • Gender Identity: One’s innermost concept of self as male or female, both, neither, or any and all—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. Individuals are conscious of this between the ages 18 months and 3 years. For some, their gender identity is different from their biological or assigned sex. Some of these individuals choose to socially, hormonally and/or surgically change their sex to more fully match their gender identity.
  • Gender Expression: Refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, and other forms of presentation. Gender expression also works the other way as people assign gender to others based on their appearance, mannerisms, and other gendered characteristics. Sometimes, transgender people seek to match their physical expression with their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex. Gender expression should not be viewed as an indication of sexual orientation.
  • Gender Role: This is the set of roles, activities, expectations and behaviors assigned to females and males by society. Our culture recognizes two basic gender roles: Masculine (having the qualities attributed to males) and feminine (having the qualities attributed to females). People who step out of their socially assigned gender roles are sometimes referred to as transgender. Other cultures have three or more gender roles.
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  • Transgender: It refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify with a variety of other sexual identities as well.
  • Gender Fluidity: Gender fluidity conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender expression, with interests and behaviors that may even change from day to day. Gender fluid children do not feel confined by restrictive boundaries of stereotypical expectations of girls or boys. In other words, a child may feel they are a girl some days and a boy on others, or possibly feel that neither term describes them accurately., expands gender terminology to include: 
  • Genderqueer: A broad descriptor many people use to indicate a person that does not identify as either male or female.
  • Preferred Personal Pronouns: In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her, they), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie and xe. If you don’t know a youth’s preferred personal pronoun, it’s always best to ask. [Increasingly, youth are requesting that “they” be used as their personal, singular gender-neutral pronoun.]

You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 
  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Reed Larson’s Research on Youth Development

Source: Reed Larson, The Youth Development Experience Kate Walker By Guest Blogger Kate Walker, Extension Specialist, Youth Development, Uni...