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ERW Education Fund and Safe Schools Coalition announce partnership


For Immediate Release

March 6, 2014 (updated April 3, 2014)

Contact: Monisha Harrell, Chair, Equal Rights Washington

Safe Schools Coalition
c/o Equal Rights Washington
PO Box 2388
Seattle WA 98111

ERW Office 206-324-2570
mharrell@ruleseven.com cell 206-550-7637

The Boards of Equal Rights Washington Education Fund (ERW Education Fund) and Safe Schools Coalition (SSC) have signed a memorandum of understanding moving fiscal sponsorship of SSC to ERW Education Fund. “Safe Schools will maintain its own identity, but board and staff will be working very closely to address the issue of bullying in Washington schools. We are excited about the opportunity to mutually organize statewide educational efforts to prevent the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or any other youth. We look forward to using the resources and knowledge each organization brings to the table,” said Monisha Harrell, ERW Education Fund Board Chair.

In 2007, SSC and ERW worked together to help pass the Healthy Youth Act. The law is still effective, and requires school districts choosing to teach sex education to follow the 2005 Washington Department of Health guidelines for sexual education. The bill stipulates that information provided in the classroom about sex must be comprehensive and medically accurate.

“The Healthy Youth Act allows schools to opt out of sex education. Roughly 25% of the school districts, mostly in rural Washington, have opted out of teaching medically accurate sex education. The community should find that very troubling, especially when it is linked to LGBTQ youth fleeing hostile environments and becoming homeless,” said ERW Operations Director, Doug Hamilton. “I’m pleased to be working with Safe Schools committee members like Brett Niessen, who works in the area of Public Health. We need a clearer picture of exactly what is being taught to our students in specific schools.”

“We think this is a natural fit. We are both statewide organizations concerned about the most vulnerable of our LGBTQ community. We see definite synergies from working closely together to more fully support our LGBTQ youth,” said SSC committee member Matthew Wilson, who works with Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma.

Safe Schools Coalition role is to reduce bias-based bullying and violence in schools in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Formerly known as "Safe Schools Coalition of Washington," SSC now serves a world-wide constituency providing resources to schools such as posters and publications, raising parent/guardian, student, educator and community awareness and serving as a technical advisory resource to researchers, policy-makers, educators and activists. Safe Schools Coalition’s current programs targeted to Washington State include a speakers’ bureau for addressing schools and public forums on bullying and a help hotline for LGBT students undergoing duress.

Equal Rights Washington (ERW) is a statewide political advocacy organization for the LGBT community of Washington State. ERW has successfully advocated for marriage equality, the Anderson Murray Anti-Discrimination law, the creation and further expansion of the domestic partnership registry protections, and the passage of the Healthy Youth Act. ERW works to organize the movement for equality, educate the public, and influence policy makers. ERW is currently advocating in the areas of healthcare, education, employment, housing and immigration. ERW Education Fund is the educational sister organization to Equal Rights Washington.

Currently the newly formed partnership between Safe Schools Coalition and ERW Education Foundation is seeking sponsorship, grants, in-kind donations and contributions to underwrite a series of town hall meetings across Washington. For more information contact mharrell@ruleseven.com or make a contribution to: Safe Schools Coalition.

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