Iowa Safe Schools Announces Expansion, Additional Staff
New programming will benefit gay-straight alliances (GSAs), LGBTQ students
Iowa Safe Schools announced today a large expansion effort to better provide services for LGBTQ youth in Iowa schools and communities. These efforts include the development of the Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Network, providing victim advocacy services for LGBTQ youth who are victims of bullying, and creation of a social media app to better deliver services to rural LGBTQ youth.
Joining the Iowa Safe Schools team will be Joshua Merritt who will serve as the LGBTQ Youth Advocate and Becky Smith who will serve as the Iowa GSA Network Coordinator. Both new hires will start in early-September.
Joshua Merritt is an Iowa-native and started the first gay-straight alliance at his high school in Johnston. He went on to work as an Outreach Coordinator with the Iowa Pride Network while attending the University of Iowa. Joshua received his Masters in Social Work from DePaul University and has since worked with homeless and formerly homeless youth and adults in both direct service and program administration roles.
Becky Smith received her Bachelors in Social Work from the University of Iowa. She has worked in the non-profit field including as the Iowa Pride Network Coordinator with One Iowa. Becky brings with her a wealth of experience working with LGBTQ* young people, and is excited to share her knowledge on GSA organizing, youth advocacy, and intersectionality to Iowa Safe Schools. She has developed strong relationships with many existing Iowa GSAs, and is committed to creating safe spaces for young people in Iowa schools through youth activism and community support.
"Becky & Joshua provide a wealth of experience on supporting LGBTQ youth," said Nate Monson, Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools. "This new team puts Iowa Safe Schools firmly in the leadership role of providing concrete resources and infrastructure that gay-straight alliances and LGBTQ youth need. This expansion of programming and staff will improve the lives of LGBTQ youth especially those being victimized by bullying and harassment in schools."
About Iowa Safe Schools
Iowa Safe Schools is the state's leading organization working to support LGBTQ youth in schools and communities. The mission of Iowa Safe Schools is to provide safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ & Allied youth through education, outreach, and advocacy.