Tuesday, 20 December 2011

December 20,

b. December 20, 1933
As long as I have a breath in me, I will continue to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian students.

As a counselor and science teacher at Fairfax High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Virginia Uribe witnessed the troubles of gay students. The plight of one student who had been kicked out of his house and had dropped out of four different high schools because of sexual harassment convinced Uribe to take action. In 1984, she founded Project 10, a drop-out prevention program for GLBT youth.

Project 10 met resistance. Conservative groups, led by the Traditional Values Coalition, attacked the group and used their influence to threaten to cut funding for the LAUSD. Uribe prevailed at the court hearing and Project 10 continued to provide assistance to GLBT teenagers.

The program focuses on building school-based support for teens by training school personnel in conflict resolution and suicide prevention, helping students participate in the development of school protection policies and providing access to information about human sexuality. In 1998, when she retired from teaching, Uribe became Executive Director of Friends of Project 10, Inc., the nonprofit arm of Project 10. The nonprofit funds programs not covered by the district, including a gay and lesbian prom and a lobbying day for educational issues in Sacramento.

Uribe's program has spread to dozens of schools in the LAUSD, but her vision has extended to many other parts of the country as well. High schools throughout the nation incorporate aspects of Project 10. Uribe, a Ph.D in counseling psychology, influences policy through her writing. Her articles have appeared in Education Digest, High School Journal, Theory Into Practice, and a special issue of the Harvard Education Review. She has appeared in USA Today and the LA Times, and has spoken on public radio and television.

In 1992, Virginia Uribe received the National Education Association's Annual Human and Civil Rights Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, now renamed the Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights. She has been honored by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the California State Senate and Assembly, the Los Angeles City Council and the American Civil Liberties Union.

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