You don't have to be from Mississippi to know that Mississippi public schools can sometimes be unwelcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) teens.  Last Saturday, however, the ACLU of Mississippi participated in our third Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSSC) summit, whose mission is to make schools safer for LGBT youth in Mississippi.

Each year the MSSC holds a statewide summit that brings together  LGBT youth and allies to learn strategies for making schools safer for all students. Attendees--mostly students, teachers, parents and allies--spend the rest of the year applying what they've learned. Some students, for example, might try to get safe schools policy passed in their schools. Others might start the Gay/Straight Alliance they've been talking about but haven't known the right steps. Mostly, attendees serve as community advocates--someone people know they can go to if they're experiencing bullying in their schools.

The ACLU of Mississippi is so proud to be a member of the MSSC. The coalition, especially its young people, have done astonishingly good work over the past three years since the coalition's founding. This year's summit was amazing. I'm confident the MSSC and all its partners will see an amazing year in 2011 as we work together to make Mississippi's schools safe and respectful for all students.