Standing Side by Side
Midlo Teachers Learn More About Side by Side Program
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On Friday, March 31, 2017, many Midlo teachers attended a presentation to learn more about Side by Side (formerly known as ROSMY), a Richmond program in its 25th year that lends support to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. As teachers gathered in the library, we approached the session as an opportunity to learn more about how to fully support our students. Midlo Science teacher Ms. Katie Goins, who organized the event, says, “The goal of the program is to make sure every student at Midlo feels affirmed and supported. Being a teenager is hard enough- every kid has questions and concerns; every student needs access to information and support. We want kids to be confident they would never be treated differently because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
After listening to Side by Side‘s Executive Director, Ted Lewis, speak, teachers left feeling enlightened and optimistic. According to the Side by Side brochure, “The training provides information about adolescent sexual and gender identity development and encourages adults to help youth recognize their inherent value, guide them toward healthy self-awareness, and steer them away from risks often faced by LGBTQ+ youth.”
Mr. Lewis meticulously explained the program and gave insight into the youth it supports. Through his articulate delivery, he clearly conveyed his passion for the program and his compassion for the youth he serves and seeks to help. Side by Side programs include: LGBTQ+ Youth Support Group (ages 14-20), Middle School Support Group (ages 11-14), LGBTQ+ Youth of Color Support Group (ages 14-20), Transgender Support Group (ages 14-20), Youth Engaged in Leadership (ages 14-20), and a Youth Support Line (888) 644-3490. Side by Side impacts youths in a variety of positive ways, including: “Youths who participate report increased feelings of self-worth and in healthy peer relationships. Side by Side youth [also] report higher rates of civic engagement and higher rates of helping their peers through mentorship.”
After the training, teachers received stickers that designate their classrooms as SAFE ZONES, places where all students who seek support can feel comfortable. Teachers also will post signs that state: “I AM AN ALLY. I am understanding. I am non-judgmental. I am here to listen.” Mr. Lewis points out that “having visibly supportive teachers and administrators in schools makes a huge positive impact on LGBTQ+ youth. We are honored to play a role in helping Midlothian High become a more welcoming and affirming place for all students.”
The faculty and staff at Midlothian High School deeply care about each of their students. After this presentation, teachers feel more prepared to fully assist all of them.
For information about Side by Side, click HERE.
To see the Side by Side presentation slides, click HERE.
Youth Support Line: (888) 644-3490