Group ponders starting Safe Schools in Kitsap

What is life really like inside the Kitsap County’s schools?

That’s what a group of community members hope to find out today when they meet with a group of students to talk about harassment, threats and mistreatment at all levels of education.

What the students have to say will weigh heavily in whether the citizens will push to form a Safe Schools Coalition here in Kitsap County.

The Safe Schools Coalition is a Seattle-based organization that tries “to make sure schools are are a safe place for every child and every educator, with a particular concern for young people, parents or teachers who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” said Arlis Stewart, a member of KUUF who is organizing the meeting. “Our overarching conviction is that schools really need to be a safe place for students to learn.”

The meeting is from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4418 Perry Ave., in East Bremerton. Several teenagers will speak at the meeting about the current atmosphere in schools for all students, not just those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

The KUUF, the Bremerton/ Kitsap PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and KUUPF’s Rainbow Chalice Committee are sponsoring the meeting.

“We don’t have a chapter in Kitsap,” Stewart said. “One of the things we want to do on the 17th is pull people together who work with young people or who are involved with churches that have concerns about kids getting hurt or taunted.”

The goal is to have a broad base of people show up at the meeting and create an action plan to prevent bullying in Kitsap’s schools.

Stewart said she sees the need for the Safe Schools Coalition to have a chapter in Kitsap.

The biggest push for the meeting is coming from KUUF, which has a lot of gay and lesbian families who attend the church. The church wanted to make a contribution to the community and needed to focus on how it could have the biggest impact, she said.

“Probably, if anybody is having the hardest time speaking for themselves, it’s the kids in school and perhaps the workers in the schools,” Stewart said.

For more information about the meeting or to RSVP and arrange for child care, call (360) 697-3265.

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