The purpose of the proposed project is to build the capacity of funded Local Education Agencies (LEA) to establish and maintain safe and supportive environments for students and staff as an approach to HIV/STD prevention. Safe and supportive school environments are associated with better outcomes for students, including many risk factors associated with HIV/STD.
APA will provide technical assistance (TA) and capacity building assistance (CBA) to the 35 funded LEA focused on creating and maintaining safe and supportive environments (SSE). Specifically, APA will support the LEA in implementing school-based efforts aimed at reducing HIV infection, other sexually transmitted disease (STD), and related risk behaviors among adolescents, as well as reducing disparities in HIV infection and other STD among selected groups of youth at disproportionate risk, including lesbian gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
The project will assess the capacity of the LEA to implement the following activities and then provide tailored capacity building support to enhance their ability to implement the activities successfully based on their needs: implement mentoring, service learning, and/or other positive youth development programs for students and/or connect students to such community-based programs; establish or enhance student-led clubs that support LGBT youth (often known as Gay-Straight Alliances or Genders and Sexualities Alliances); disseminate resources to parents/caregivers on parental monitoring and parent-adolescent communication (generally and specifically about sex); annually, provide professional development to teachers on classroom management; and, annually, provide professional development to all school staff on supporting LGBT youth. Support will be provided at three different levels, depending on need: general technical assistance, specialized capacity building, and intensive program implementation support.
By the end of the project period, July 1, 2023, it is anticipated that the following outcomes will be achieved in the 35 LEA, including in the 10 or more priority schools within each LEA identified as having youth at high risk of HIV infection and other STD: (1) Teacher implementation of best classroom management practices will increase, and (2) Student participation in positive youth development activities, parent/student communication about sexual health, and student connectedness to school will increase.
APA will leverage its access to scientific experts on safe and supportive environments to identify, adapt, or develop evidence-supported resources for LEA and their schools. APA will also collaborate with professional associations for school counseling, psychology, nursing, and social work to develop grounded guidance for using the evidence-supported resources in high-risk schools. In addition, APA and its partner organizations will communicate to their members, divisions/special interest groups, and chapters/affiliates about the project. These communications will increase their knowledge of safe and supportive environments as a school-based approach to HIV/STD prevention, and highlight the work of the LEA in their jurisdictions to promote safe and supportive environments in high-risk schools for all youth and for the three targeted groups of youth at disproportionate risk.