2019 Friend of School Social Work
On behalf of the MSSWA Board, it is an honor and privilege to present the 2019 MSSWA Friend of School Social Work Award to OutFront MN. OutFront Minnesota was founded in 1987 to fight for LGBTQ justice and equity. Over the past 32 years, OutFront MN has worked with constituents, public institutions, and elected officials, including members of Minnesota’s Legislature and MSSWA promoting the human rights of LGBTQ Minnesotans by shaping public policy and creating a state where all LGBTQ individuals are free to be who they are and live without fear of violence, harassment and discrimination. In 1993, Outfront MN successfully passed a statewide nondiscrimination law that included sexual orientation AND gender identity as protected statuses, the first law that included protections for trans community members. Recognizing that schools were not a safe place for many LGBTQ youth, OutFront MN focused their advocacy efforts to create safe and supportive school communities for every child. In 2007, Executive Director Monica Meyer who is here with us today reached out to MSSWA President Heather Alden at that time asking our organization to join the Safe Schools Coalition that was created to strengthen Minnesota’s anti-bullying legislation. MSSWA was one of the first organizations to join what evolved into 40+ coalition of various groups, organizations and individuals who began advocating to strengthen Minnesota’s anti-bullying legislation which at that time was one of the weakest policies across the nation. Through ongoing advocacy the Safe Schools Coalition led by Outfront MN passed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act in 2014 which came a year after Outfront led the efforts in successfully defeating an anti-marriage amendment at the ballot box and passing marriage equality through the legislature in 2013.
Their commitment to Educational Equity which is also one of the foundational elements of MSSWA’s mission and vision continues to be at the forefront of their work as an organization. According to a 2018 national survey, 74% of LGBTQ+ students felt unsafe at school (HRC). OutFront Minnesota’s Educational Equity Program works with students, educators, youth service providers, advocates, pre-service teachers, educational leaders, community groups, and policymakers to support and create school environments that help humans to feel safe, respected and valued for who the are by decreasing inequity and increasing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity in classrooms, schools, districts, and youth organizations. It is also important to note that the Trans Toolkit was created in 2017, an essential resource for us as practitioners and to share with educators and school staff with whom we work as we all are committed to ensuring safe and supportive school climates.
MSSWA’s partnership with Outfront MN is one of great value and for our members as well as the students and families we serve OutFront MN has provided essential advocacy, professional development, resources and support. Our state, profession, students and families are stronger because of the dedication and vision of OutFront Minnesota. As you can see, OutFront MN is clearly deserving of this recognition. Without further ado, please help me in honoring OutFront MN as MSSWA’s Friend of School Work 2019 and allow me to introduce OutFront MN Executive Director Monica Meyer.
Monica Meyer - Outfront Minnesota