• James Robinson

"Advocacy in Action" report April 13, 2012 "Are you helping make this possible?"

I reported yesterday that April 12th was a very busy day on the advocacy front...well read on about April 13th! Last night I posted a personal note directly connected to my work for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community through GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services. This note stressed that I will be forced to cut back services drastically if the agency does not get significant sustainable funding so that I may receive a salary and hire someone to help me. This situation has not changed and as I am trying to explain the needs as we grow...

This morning shortly after 6:00am I received a message from a teenager asking for my help. I am including part of our conversation at the end of this report so that you may more completely understand this "Advocacy in Action" report. By 7:00am I had completed a conversation with her mother. By noon an ROTC teacher had apologized to the class and this student, according to a report from her mother. By 10:00am I was having a 2nd phone conference with the mother and a meeting was scheduled for Monday morning at the school which I will be attending, I had completed a phone conversation with the assistant principal handling the situation, and a call with the supervisor of counselors for the school system. By noon I had rallied support from fellow members of Huntsville's Coalition to End Bullying and had received a reply from Sam Wolf, civil rights attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and informed Topper Birney, a school board member of the situation. By 5:30pm I had completed a phone conference with the Director of Secondary Education. During all of this I also attended the monthly meeting of the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, had a meeting with Sherry Birney, one of my board members , had a brief meeting with Mary Elizabeth Marr Ex Dir of the AIDS Action Coalition, and a meeting with one of our volunteers to prepare for Sunday's Planning with Pride workshop. Throughout the day I had other phone conversations and continued to try and raise funds by responding to messages. Now at home I am writing this report and I still have more to do tonight as I try and raise money to make it possible for me to follow through with my commitments to be here for our kids and our community.

Was I busy today? Yes. Was I working? Yes. Was my work productive and beneficial to our community? Yes. Was I paid for this work? No. Can I continue this way? No. Should I have to continue this way? No. Do our kids and our community need what I am providing? Yes. Does a group of students know they have an advocate in the community who is here for them when they need him? Yes. Are these students more confident today than they were this time yesterday that they are valued and respected? Yes. Does our city school system know that I am here, that I will use my influence to help our kids, and that I work closely with them whenever possible? Yes. Am I competent at what I do? You tell me. Are you helping make this possible? _____. Do I need your help. YES. Please donate, contact a friend or business that can donate, volunteer to hold a fundraiser, do something.

I am hiding the identity of this youth. If you have any doubt as to why you need to donate to help me keep working or you wonder what I do please read this request I just received...do you know how long it has taken me to develop a position in our community where our youth come to me for help??? "Hey James. I had a problem with one of my teachers yesterday. Well, I had mentioned that I wanted to move to SF back in Cali cause of the big gay community and he got offended. He started going off about how gay is wrong. I had told him "you have your opinions and I have mine, there's no way we're going to see eye to eye so we should just drop it" and he kept going. He brought god into the conversation, the whole Adam and Eve thing, he mentioned how it's a sin. He didn't just stop there. He had offended me and 2 other students. I pretty much walked out. Is there anything my mom and I could do, besides going to the Principal? She's calling the school today to set up a meeting."

Do you understand how important it is that someone is here to do this and that I am doing it?

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