Writing Contest on Project Safe Zone

Posted on April 21, 2006

City Year Greater Philadelphia Seeking Essay Submissions for Contest

Media Contact: Rex Carney
267 386 7028

With one week to go, students in high schools across Philadelphia are invited to submit essays about how to make Philadelphia’s schools safer for LGBTQ students.

Philadelphia, PA – City Year Greater Philadelphia’s Project Safe Zone is holding an essay contest for students in high schools served by City Year with awards totaling $550. The contest is being organized in partnership with the Philadelphia School District Office of Educational Equity and Ally Safe Schools Program.

500 word essays must respond to the question: How can your school or school district increase support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students? The contest deadline has been extended to April 28th. The top three winning essayists will receive awards in the amount of $300, $150, and $100, with a possibility of being published. Essays can be written in English or Spanish. Winners will be announced on May 10th.

"The Philadelphia School District already has a policy (102) in place to ensure safe schools for all students, including LGBTQ students. At this point, it’s up to community leaders, teachers, principals, students and the district to create positive change in the culture of our schools. Our hope is that this essay contest will act as one of many catalysts for this change," stated Steph Nelson, Project Manager for City Year Greater Philadelphia, who also leads their Project Safe Zone Initiative.

Essay contest judges include Brianne Brown, Ally Safe Schools Program; Gloria Casarez, Executive Director, GALAEI; Melissa DeShields, Program Officer, Philadelphia Foundation; Michael Hinson, Jr. Assistant Managing Director, Office of the Mayor and Chairman of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Board; Carrie Jacobs, Executive Director, Attic Youth Center; Janet Tedesco, Director of the Philadelphia School District Office of Educational Equity; and Neil Batiancila Deputy Director, Operations and Recruitment, City Year Greater Philadelphia.

According to the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States, LGBTQ students are three times as likely to drop out of school than is the general student population. And research conducted by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network reports that LGBTQ students who report significant verbal harassment are twice as likely to report they do not intend to go to college and their GPA’s are significantly lower – 2.9 vs. 3.3.

For more information or to submit an essay for the Project Safe Zone Essay Contest, contact Steph Nelson at 267 386 7034, or submit your essay to: snelson@cityyear.org or Project Safe Zone, City Year Greater Philadelphia, 2221 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19103.

High schools served by City Year are: Ben Franklin, Furness, South Philadelphia, John Overbrook, Bartram, West Philadelphia, University City, Jules E. Mastbaum, Frankford, Samuel S. Fels, Strawberry Mansion, Simon Gratz, Germantown, Kensington Culinary, CAPA and Business, and Olney High Schools. Students involved with the City Year City Heroes program are also eligible.

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