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Kate McGravey, MA/CAGS School Psychologist Boston Public Schools, MA

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1 The Trevor Project Fostering: Safe Schools Through Positive Relationships
Kate McGravey, MA/CAGS School Psychologist Boston Public Schools, MA PsyD Student, MSPP Jaclyn Kinsman, MA/CAGS Haverhill Public Schools, MA ‘This presentation was financially supported in part by the Massachusetts School Psychologists Association.’ Kate: Good morning! Welcome to our presentation and thank you for coming on this Friday morning. I’m Kate McGravey (Jacki – and I’m Jacki Kinsman). We are here to talk about The Trevor project. So we’ll start with a tiny bit of background information about the project and why it’s important to us and to all of you. Then we’ll actually demonstrate what the workshop looks like when you use it in High Schools. Jacki: When we start the workshop, we’re going to ask you to “act” a little bit if you feel comfortable. The workshop is geared toward a high school audience, so if you feel comfortable participating, we ask that you channel your inner-teenager and pretend that you’re a high school student. We’ll leave time for questions and answers at the end. Kate: Before we get started, we also wanted to go over some terminology. We’re going to using the team young LGBTQ persons throughout the presentation. This basically means any year old person who identifies as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning.

2 What is The Trevor Project?
The number one non-profit organization that works towards raising awareness of and ending LGBTQ suicide Programs include a helpline that teens can call if they need to talk to someone (THE TREVOR LIFELINE – U-TREVOR  [U.S. CALLS ONLY]) “Dear Trevor” is an online resource for LGBTQ teens who have questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. Trevorchat is a free online messaging system for teens who are not at-risk for suicide but who want a confidential place to chat. It’s available on Fridays. The “Trevor Lifeguard Workshop” is a structured age-appropriate workshop that trained professionals can use to raise questions about sexual orientation and gender identity Download the Lifeguard Workshop Guide and learn more at Kate: So just to give you some background information, The Trevor Project is the leading national non-profit organization that works to raise awareness of LGBTQ risk factors and end LGBTQ suicide Jacki: The Trevor Project has a 24-hour helpline that young people can call if they need to talk to someone if they are feeling suicidal or if they just need some support. Kate: the website also offers a “Dear Trevor” section which allows young persons to read and ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. They also have a online messaging system that young people can use if they are not at risk for suicide but just want to talk with others who are going through similar things or who understand what it’s like to feel different. Jacki: One of the big things that the Trevor Project does to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues is “The Trevor Lifeguard Workshop,” which is going to be the bulk of our presentation. After we get through the introduction, we are going to launch into an actual Lifeguard Workshop. Kate: You can download the Workshop Guide for FREE at this website or order it online and get everything that you see here for free.

3 Trevor Space An online social networking community for LGBTQ youth and their allies This can be a great resource to share with LGBTQ youth in your schools! Feeling a sense of normalcy is important. Kate: In addition to other things, the Trevor Project has expanded to include “Trevor Space,” which is somewhat similar to other social networking sites but is designed specifically for LGBTQ youth. The website actually only wants members who are years of age. Jacki: Since a huge part of working with LGBTQ youth is to “normalize” non-heterosexuals and to help young people connect with other LGBTQ youth, “trevorspace” is something that can be really helpful and that you can easily recommend to teens who are struggling with their sexual or gender identities.

4 Why Focus on LGBTQ Youth?
As a group, about 8.5% of all students in grades 9 through 12 will attempt suicide at least once (according to the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, YRBSS) Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among year olds (CDC, 2007; Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009) Somewhere between 20 and 40% of gay teenagers attempt suicide. More than half of the LGBT youth who attempt suicide do so without coming out to an adult first (Li Kitts, 2005). LGBTQ youth are at least three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (The Trevor Project, n.d.). Kate: So some of you might be asking why it’s important to raise awareness of LGBTQ youth and why The Trevor Project focuses on ending specifically LGBTQ suicide. Jacki: Right…it’s true that suicide is an issue for all teenagers, and it’s important for schools to understand that it’s not just the LGBTQ youth that are at-risk. However, given the recent tragedies surrounding LGBTQ youth suicide, it’s become apparent that many kids who are questioning their sexual identities contemplate hurting themselves. Many face bullying or harassment, and it often leads to feelings of depression and hopelessness. Kate: Statistically, suicide is an issue, like Jacki said, for all young people. It’s the 3rd leading cause of death among year olds in the general population. About 8.5% of all students in grades 9 through 12 will attempt suicide at least once. Jacki: But the risk for LGBTQ youth is even greater. Somewhere between 20 to 40% of all LGBTQ teenagers attempt suicide. LGBTQ youth are at least 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Kate: What’s even more telling is the fact that many LGBTQ young people attempt or commit suicide without first coming out to anyone. Therefore, the number of LGBTQ suicide is most likely even higher since some kill themselves without ever discussing their fears and worries about gender or sexual identity.

5 Raising Awareness The Trevor Project works to raise awareness of youth suicide. It’s important for youth to recognize the warning signs in their friends and family. It’s also important for service providers to keep an eye out for warning signs and to understand the warning signs of suicide. Jacki: Some of the things that the Trevor Project does to raise awareness about LGBTQ youth suicide is to talk about the warning signs and risk factors that young people face. It’s important for all service providers to understand these risks and recognize them when they see them.

6 Risk Factors for the General Population
Prior History of Suicide Attempts History of Suicide in the Family Emotional State Academic Issues Loss of a Loved One Homelessness Access to Fire Arms Jacki: Some of the risk factors that ALL young people face are listed on this slide. (name 2 or three). It’s important to understand that this is not a comprehensive list. It includes many of the factors that can increase the risk of suicide.

7 What Makes LGBTQ Youth More Likely to Attempt Suicide
What Makes LGBTQ Youth More Likely to Attempt Suicide? The Risk Factors: Many LGBTQ youth have a smaller support system. Some are left homeless after coming out to their parents, and many lose friends during the coming out process. Youth who have highly rejecting families are 8x more likely to commit suicide! (D’Augelli, R., 2002) 70% of GLBT students report physical, sexual, or verbal abuse (2007 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN) 90% of GLBT students hear anti-gay comments regularly at school (2007 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN) Kate: LGBTQ young persons have the same risk factors as the general populations, but they also face additional risk factors. We will get into some more details later, but the young LGBTQ population often has a smaller support system than their heterosexual peers. Many lose close family members (at least for a while) or face harassment at school from people that were once their friends as their sexual identity becomes apparent or they begin to seem “different.” One study found that LGBTQ youth who have highly rejecting families are EIGHT TIMES more likely to commit suicide than the general population of youth. Jacki: Other risk factors that the LGBTQ youth population faces are physical, sexual, and verbal abuse at school as well as hearing anti-gay comments regularly at school. Imagine what a young person who is questioning his or her sexual identify feels like if they hear anti-gay slurs or language. Side note: Lose friends during coming out process and just for being perceived as “different” – even if they are simply questioning

8 Other Risks Unique to the LGBTQ Population
Coming out at a Young Age Gender non-conformity Developmental Issues (especially in the transsexual population) Kate: Some studies have shown that youth who come out at a young age are more at risk for suicide than those who wait. A variety of factors might influence this. Developmentally, kids are less likely to be dependent on their parents as they reach the end of high school or beginning of adulthood. More and more kids are coming out in middle school now, and at that age, kids are very dependent on their families and often view their families as their main support system. If these LGBTQ youth come out to their parents at that age, they are likely to suffer extreme feelings of loss and isolation if their families reject them. Additionally, at a younger age, LGBTQ youth are more likely to have strong reactions to peers who reject them due to their sexual identity or orientation. Middle school, as I’m sure many of you know, is a very social time where lots of growth takes place. Losing friends at this age can be even more painful than in later years. Jacki: Another risk factor that is unique to the LGBTQ youth population is gender non-conformity. Those that are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity are more likely to act less like the gender that they are perceived as. They are likely to experience harassment if they don’t fit into society’s idea of a “boy” or a “girl.” This can increase the risk of suicide. Kate: Finally, the transsexual population faces some developmental issues that the general population does not. They often feel as if they do not belong in their bodies as they reach puberty, and this can lead to feelings of hopelessness and eventually to thoughts of suicide.

9 Warning Signs of Suicide
Having a plan and having the means to carry out the plan (i.e. access to a gun, access to pills, etc.) Signs of Depression Making Final Arrangements (i.e. giving things away) Increased Drug/Alcohol Use Increased Isolation Change in Regular Behavior Jacki: Some of the warning signs of suicide include…(read the slide). Again, these are only SOME of the warning signs of suicide, so services providers should be mindful of any changes in behavior or mood.

10 Now that we know what to look for…
Let’s start the workshop! Kate: Now that we have given you some background information, we want to demonstrate what the actual Trevor Lifeguard Workshop looks like. These are usually run by trained volunteers (or people like you all) in schools to groups of students. It’s up to you to decide what size group will work best.

11 The Trevor Lifeguard Workshop Guide
The Workshop that we are demonstrating is for High School students. The Trevor Project has workshops available for younger students as well. For the purpose of the presentation, it would help if you would all “role play” and act as high school students. Feel free to participate in any way that you feel comfortable. We will ask for comments and questions from the audience at various points throughout the presentation. Jacki: We’re demonstrating the high school workshop. Like we mentioned earlier, you can download or order the workshops for any age at Kate: Also, for the purpose of our presentation, we’re going to ask those of you that are comfortable to “role play” a little bit. Instead of answering our questions or commenting as if you are school psychologists, we want you to pretend as if you are high school students. At the end of the presentation, we’ll leave time for questions and comments about the presentation in general.

12 Introductions, Overview of the Trevor Project
Kate McGravey – Works in K-12 schools in Boston, MA as a School Psychologist. Identifies as a Lesbian. Originally interested in LGBTQ population because of her own experience growing up in a homophobic family and community. Plans to do doctoral project on creating safe schools for LGBTQ youth. Jaclyn Kinsman – Jaclyn Kinsman works as a School Psychologist in Haverhill, MA. She currently works in an elementary and middle school where she in involved in LGBT support groups. She first became interested in the topic when several of her close friends came out in college. She will continue to pursue this interest area by way of support groups in school and presenting on related workshops. Brief description of The Trevor Project: Leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Saves lives through its free and confidential helpline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. (www.thetrevorproject.org) Kate: Hi, I’m Kate. I’m a school psychologist, and I originally became interested in reaching out the LGBTQ community a few years ago when I started graduate school. I wanted to pick a population that was personal to me, and I also knew that the LGBTQ population was in need of more support in schools. I have focused a lot of my graduate research on creating safer schools for LGBTQ youth, and The Trevor Project really stood out to me as a good program. So I became interested in sharing it with anyone that would listen! Jacki: (Intro…)

13 Creating a Safe Space This might be the first time that these students talk about suicide and/or LGBTQ issues and people. Create a safe where everybody feels free to share and express ideas. Stress confidentiality and respect. Kate: I know that this might be the first time you have ever talked about suicide and/or LGBTQ people with your friends and classmates in this setting. This can be a hard conversation to have, so we want to create a safe space to talk about these serious issues. Jacki: Does anyone know what a safe space is? (pause for comments) Jacki: We are hoping that you will create guidelines for our safe space to help make us feel comfortable confronting some of these serious issues. I’ll say then first guideline, but then you can help us come up with the rest. Let’s start with confidentiality. Can we agree to keep what we talk about today just among those of us that are in the room? Kate: Can anybody else think of other safe space guidelines? (pause for comments…) Kate: What about respect? How does that play into our discussion today? Jacki: Right…You don’t necessarily have to agree with everyone, but we do have to respect what others are saying. Kate: What about being non-judgmental? Jacki: What might be some things we don’t want to see happen during the discussion? Kate: This is tricky, but what do you all think we should do if someone is not following the guidelines? (suggest warning, have to leave, speak with a teacher…) Jacki: Also, we want to let you know that at any time during the presentation, if you feel that a new guideline has to be added, feel free to comment on it.

14 Ice Breaker Activity The high school workshop offers two options: Gender Boxes & Top 10 Today, we’re going to do Top 10 because it requires less material and can be done right at your seats. Kate: Today we’re going to talk about suicide among young people and the incredible pain that many young people feel – including some of your friends (and you might not even know it)! So right now, we’re going to ask you to do a silent activity to give you some time to reflect. Jacki: Please write down a list of the 10 most important people or things in your lives – it can be friends, parents, you iPod, your cat, your Red Sox jersey, so long as it’s a list of 10. Kate – now cross out the 3 things/people that you can do without. Jacki – Is there anyone in the audience that’s willing to talk about how losing those three things/people felt? Kate – Now I’m going to ask you to cross out three more people/things that you can do without. Jacki – Again, can somebody share what that felt like? Kate – Cross off all but 1 of the remaining things/people now. Jacki – So we all started with a full list of people/things that we cherish and look forward to having in our lives every day. These are the things/people that keep us going and keep our lives whole. They make us feel fulfilled. Kate – Now please cross off your last item. (pause) Jacki – Is anybody willing to share what that felt like? Kate – Like Jacki said, we all started with full lists. Once it was down to one person/thing, it might have been pretty hard for all of you. But having nothing at all is even worse. A lot of kids feel an extreme sense of grief and loss that leads to feelings of suicide. Many LGBTQ youth lose the things that would be on their top 10 list in the coming out process. Like we said earlier, many lose their closest friends, their homes, and their families. Jacki – Just to process it a little bit more, does anybody want to share how it felt to prioritize the most important people and things in you lives? Can anyone understand why someone facing sexual identity issues might have to prioritize people or things in a similar way? Kate – (if audience does not come up with good answer) – Many LGBTQ youth have to “choose” between friends/family/a significant other. And sometimes they end up losing their homes (like we said) and other things if they decide to “come out” and be true to themselves. It can be extremely stressful and difficult to prioritize these things. Jacki – Do you all have a better sense of why the LGBTQ population is at such an increased risk for making a suicide attempt? Leave time for comments.

15 Top 10 Ask participants to write down the 10 most important things in their life (family, friends, iPod, TV, vision, music, pets, etc.). Have one or two participants discuss their list. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 of the things that they can do without, if need be. Have one or two participants discuss what they’ve crossed out and why. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 more items, leaving only 4. Have one or two participants discuss their feelings surrounding the exercise so far. Next, ask everyone to cross out 3 more items, leaving only 1. Explain that they all started with a full list of things that are cherished and look forward to having in their lives every day. These are the things that keep us going and keep our lives whole—bring fulfillment. Ask them to all cross out the last item. After they’ve done this, explain that this is what someone who is suicidal often feels like. Skip past this slide – just in the powerpoint so that audience has it.

16 Addressing the Impact of our Language and Actions
Many of the terms that are used to describe the LGBTQ population can be used in a negative way. How do you suppose this makes youth who identify as LGBTQ feel when they hear these terms? Are there other groups of people where nearly ever word used to describe them is also hurtful? Jacki – Now we’re going to ask all of you to do something that might make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, so remember this is a safe space. We are going to list all of the words that you have heard of to describe people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. (write on board as they shout out) Kate – It’s okay to use negative terms – these will help us discuss how language affects people. (list more words on board) Jacki – Okay, now let’s circle the words that can be used “offensively” or “to hurt someone.” (listen to audience and circle) Kate – How would someone who identifies as LGBTQ feel knowing that nearly every word used to describe them can also be used to hurt them? Jacki – Have you ever used or heard the phrase, “That’s so gay?” What do you think is meant by that phrase? How do you think someone who is LGBTQ would feel if they heard someone say that? Kate – Do you think that is why there are LGBTQ people right here at your school who are too scared to come out? How would someone who identifies as or is perceived to be LGBTQ be treated at your school? Jacki – What do you think the outcomes of all this negative language are on the feelings and thoughts of young people who identify as LGBTQ?

17 Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide
A lot of young people know their friends better than anyone else, so it’s important to teach them the warning signs of suicide so that they can be Lifeguards or “first responders” to the warning signs. The more warning signs that are apparent, the more a friend needs help. Kate – What do you think are some of the warning signs of suicide from a friend or loved one that you might be concerned about? (write on board) Jacki – I’m going to list some additional ones up here that we didn’t come up with. Kate – Now we’re going to show you a short film before we teach you how to help a friend that you are worried might be considering suicide. The movie is about 18 minutes long. While you watch the movie, we want you to look for a few things.

18 Film, Trevor Note the following themes and how they may relate to your own experiences: Feeling Different and isolated from one’s peers Being forced into stereotypes and gender roles Coping with feelings and experiences we have never had before. Feeling threatened by others who seem different from ourselves. Jacki – As you watch the film, just make a note, mentally or on paper, of any of the times that you have felt isolated from peers or forced into stereotypes. Kate – Also note any times that you have had to copes with new experiences or feelings or any times when you felt threatened by other who seemed different for yourselves. Jacki – Does anybody have any questions before we start the film?

19 Follow-up Questions to Trevor
Use questions to create meaningful dialogue following the film. Ask about how LGBTQ people might feel different and whether anyone in audience has ever felt different or misunderstood. Ask about friendships: has anyone ever had a good friend reject them? Ask about how it would feel to see someone at school be treated like Trevor? Ask about stereotypes that are expressed in the film and whether anyone in the audience has ever felt stereotyped. Ask about LGBTQ support in the school and ideas for better support. Jacki – Trevor felt different and thought that no one understood him because he was gay. People may feel alone and misunderstood for many different reasons. Have you or someone you know ever felt that way? If so, can you share what that experience was like for you or your friend? Kate – Like Trevor, have you ever had a good friend reject you because of something about you beyond your control? What was the reason? How did it make you feel? What was the outcome? Jacki – How would someone like Trevor be treated here at your school? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), how would you rate what it would be like for someone to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender at your school? Kate – What types of support and resources exit for LGBTQ people at your school? Can you think of any ideas for ways to better support your LGBTQ peers? Jacki – Does anybody have any additional comments or questions about the film?

20 Responding to Warning Signs of Suicide
What are some of the most helpful things you can do when a friend is showing warning signs of suicide? Listen Accept the person’s feelings as they are Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide directly. Ask them if they have developed a plan for suicide. Remove anything dangerous Remind the person that depressed feelings can change over time. You can consider telling the person’s parents, BUT the person may not be out to their parents, so avoid any issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Make NO deals to keep secret what a suicidal person has told you. Express your concern. Don’t pretend that you have all the answer. Point out that death is FINAL and that it cannot be changed. Develop a plan for help with the person. Seek outside emergency help if the suicide attempt is imminent. Offer to call the person back at some point to check in. If the person is not suicidal, you can still try to provide help in may of the same ways. The Trevor Project Kate: We want you to all be “Lifeguards” – in other words, we want you to recognize warning signs of suicide AND be able to help friends who are feeling depressed or suicidal. Can you think of ways that you would help a friend who is showing warning signs of suicide? (write on board) Jacki – Those are all great suggestions. We’re going to list some more that we didn’t get to yet. One of the most important things that you can do for a friend is listen. Suicidal people often feel as if nobody understands them, that they are not taken seriously, and that no one listens to them. Trevor felt misunderstood and lonely…he had not met another gay person yet, and he felt very isolated once his parents and friends started to stereotype and reject him. Kate: Another helpful thing to do with a peer who is showing warning signs of suicide is to accept the person’s feelings as they are. Don’t try to cheer them up by making positive or unrealistic statements. Don’t joke or say, “snap out of it” or “don’t feel so bad.” Jacki – Don’t be afraid to talk about the suicide directly. You will not be putting ideas into the person’s head. It may actually be dangerous to avoid asking a person directly if she/he is feeling suicidal. Kate: Ask them if they have developed a plan for suicide. If they have a plan, the threat of suicide is much more serious, and you may need to seek professional help immediately. Jacki: Remove anything dangerous that the person might use in a suicide attempt (like a gun, knife, razor blades, and sleeping pills.) Kate: Remind the person that depressed feelings can change over time. Be gentle with your words, though. Like we said earlier, you don’t want to be unrealistic or dismiss your friend’s feelings. Just remind them that sometimes things get better and that feelings are always changing. Right now, the “It gets better” campaign is popular, and you might want to direct a friend to one of the videos. Jacki: You can consider telling your friend’s parents, but if sexual orientation or gender identity is an issue for your friend, you should try to avoid discussing those issues and stick to the suicide. Your friend might not be out to his or her parents, and you do not want to come out for them. Kate: Make NO deals to keep secret what a suicidal person has told you. They may ask you keep their thoughts of suicide a secret and feel that adults can’t be trusted. Remember that you can be a support but can’t deal with this alone. By not letting a responsible adult know of a young person’s suicidal thoughts, treatment is delayed and the suicidal person is at tremendous risk. Tell a trusted adult such as a counselor, school psychologist, teach, or other school staff member. If you friend has a close relative such as an aunt, uncle, older cousin, or grandparent that you feel comfortable talking to, you might consider seeking help from them. Jacki: Express your concern for the person. Let them know that you are worried and that you believe they are at risk for harming themselves. Kate: Don’t pretend that you have all the answers. Be honest. The most important thing that you can do may be to help them find help. Jacki: Point out that death is final and cannot be changed. Kate: Develop a plan for help with the person: - Refer them to your school’s crisis management team, psychologist, social worker, or counselor. - Utilize school and community resources for support and information. - Mobilize a support system for the student. Jacki: If you can’t develop a plan and a suicide attempt is imminent, seek outside emergency help from a hospital, mental health clinic, or call “911” Kate: Offer to call the person back t some point to check in. Jacki: If the person is not suicidal, you can still try to provide help in many of the same ways. You can listen, try to help your friend get help from a school counselor, and let your friend know that you understand that they are feeling down.

21 Closing the Workshop Remind students that young LGBTQ people are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide because of the ways that they are treated. Remind all students of The Trevor Project’s core services. Solicit questions and ask them what they learned during the workshop. Commend them on being respectful and having such a tough but productive dialogue. Point out people within the school whom they can talk with if they are struggling – as well as any resources available to LGBTQ students. If you as the facilitator are comfortable, you can also make yourself available following the workshop for additional questions. Complete any necessary evaluations and make sure to offer feedback to The Trevor Project’s Program Staff. Evaluation forms for the workshop are available on the educational programs section of the Web site: TheTrevorProject.org Kate: We’re ready to wrap up the workshop right now, so we wanted to thank you all for participating and engaging in such a difficult but productive dialogue. It’s important to learn about the warning signs of suicide and to understand how our language and actions affect young LGBTQ people. Remember that what we say really makes an impact and that young LGBTQ people are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide because of the ways that they are treated at home, in school, in their communities, and in their religious institutions. Jacki: Yes, I agree with Kate that this was a productive and important dialogue. Thank you all for your comments and questions. We want to remind you that the Trevor Project core services include The Trevor Helpline, “Dear Trevor,” TrevorSpace, and the educational Lifeguard Workshop as well as the Survival Kit Programs that we used today. Kate: If you have any further questions following the workshop, Jacki and I will stick around for a bit. At this time, we just ask that you complete the evaluations that were included in your packets. The evaluation basically asks about students, but if you could fill it out based on what you learned and experienced, that would be great.

22 This workshop curriculum, the Trevor Survival Kit, and Lifeguard Workshop are programs of:
The Trevor Project 9056 Santa Monica Blvd, Ste. 208 West Hollywood, CA 90069 (o) (f) TheTrevorProject.org

23 Special Thanks to: The Massachusetts School Psychologists’ Association (MSPA) for helping to fund our travel The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) for encouraging Kate’s research and for helping to fund our trip


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