Editor, I am a concerned citizen writing to implore our community at large to attend a free, educational panel highlighting issues of homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools.
“Partnering for Peace” is a united effort raising awareness and promoting tolerance within our local communities through education and advocacy of oppressed groups. As noted in recent headlines, the effects of bullying has become a national crisis, with teens and young people suffering from depression and committing suicide at alarming rates. Far too often, we as a community will take a “reactive” stance instead of a “proactive” approach when handling such a crisis. Somehow, we tend to forget about preventing such atrocities and shift our focus on blaming the victims.
Please be advised that “Partnering for Peace” is not associated with any political movement or the endorsement of any candidate seeking office. Rather, it is a grassroots initiative, which was organized last year to counter the effects of apathy in regards to each life touched by the hands of bigotry and hatred.
In addition to addressing the issue of school house bullying, there also will be information regarding hate-motivated violence, and discrimination in health care facilities, places of worship, etc. Invited speakers include Em Elliott with the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (GSSC) in Atlanta; Betsy Barber (PFLAG), who serves as advocate and ally for Southeast Georgia; Jack Harrison (NGLTF), co-author of “Injustice at Every Turn” and a policy analyst in Washington, D.C.; and Pastor Candace Harnett with Agape Ministries in Savannah.
Also included are activist and poet Taryn Wharwood from Jacksonville; family nurse practitioner Alice Rogers of Richmond Hill; mental health specialist Kelly Murphy (LPC) of Family Intervention Specialists Inc.; a representative from the Coastal Health District of Savannah; Senior Patrol Officer Brian Sharp of the Atlanta Police Department; Star Cpl. Tracy Walden of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department; and Capt. David Edwards with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge to share with our community, and those who attend will have an opportunity to link to resources and learn how to support their family members, co-workers, neighbors, classmates and friends.
“Partnering for Peace” is sponsored, in part, by First City Network of Savannah. The events will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Live Oak Public Library-SW Chatham branch, 10497 Abercorn St. in Savannah; and on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Days Inn banquet room, 1024 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville. Each panel is slated from 6-8 p.m. For further info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-320-0096.
—Ja’briel Walthour, Hinesville