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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 4 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 40
Step in, speak up! - New anti-bullying trainings tap educators to support LGBTQ youth
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Step in, speak up! - New anti-bullying trainings tap educators to support LGBTQ youth

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

As schools focus on bullying prevention in October (National Bullying Prevention Month), The Trevor Project, Campus Pride, and Kognito Interactive have launched two new online training simulations for protecting LGBTQ youth. These important trainings for secondary and higher education staff and students build skills to support at-risk youth in the years when peer pressure, harassment, and bullying can have the most devastating results.

To view live demos of these trainings go to www.kognito.com/lgbtq or www.kognito.com/stepin.

'The 'Step In, Speak Up!' and the 'LGBTQ on Campus' trainings allow The Trevor Project to expand our reach exponentially, helping more people build the skills they need to create safe schools,' said Abbe Land, executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project. 'By making schools and campuses safer for LGBTQ students, we can help improve safety for all students.'

WIDE-RANGING EFFECTS
Studies show a student's environment and sense of safety at school and on campus impact academics, absenteeism, and psychological well-being. Strikingly, 63.5% of LGBTQ youth in middle school and high school have felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation, and 43.9% because of their gender expression.

College students and faculty who identify as LGBTQ not only express significantly higher rates of harassment than their straight peers, but also are more likely to fear for their physical safety based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

With more attention focused on student safety and mental health support, programs like these training simulations can help improve school and campus climate, reducing risk and improving outcomes for LGBTQ students and staff.

A PROACTIVE APPROACH
'College campuses must address LGBTQ concerns in a proactive manner, exercising responsibility for academic success of at-risk populations like LGBTQ youth,' said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. 'The new 'LGBTQ on Campus' programs are dynamic tools that make it easy for colleges and universities to educate their students, faculty, and staff in an accessible, effective, and comprehensive manner. They will support the work that Campus Pride does every day to provide resources to improve campus climate and safety.'

The online simulations were built using Kognito Interactive's proprietary 'Human Interaction Game Engine' which is based on research in neuroscience, virtual humans, social cognition, and adult learning theory. The simulations are available 24/7 online. They can be purchased for individual use, and by institutional buyers such as colleges, state agencies, schools, and school districts, at www.kognito.com/prestore.

'By providing users with practice speaking with virtual students, the 'Step In, Speak Up!' and 'LGBTQ on Campus' trainings build the skills and confidence individuals need to engage in similar conversations in real life,' said Kognito's co-founder and CEO, Ron Goldman. 'Engaging in these very challenging conversations is at the core of truly overcoming stigma and supporting LGBTQ youth.'

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