City Hall— New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Council’s LGBT Caucus today kicked off Respect For All (RFA) Week, with events in public schools during Feb.9-13, to foster the importance of respect for diversity.

“We must create safe spaces where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students can thrive and grow to their full potential,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. “As an ally to the LGBT community, it is imperative that I raise my voice to make sure that every student, every youth, every person is respected and celebrated. On Respect For All Week I encourage schools to create events that uplift the importance of respect for every student regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I thank Council Member Dromm for his tremendous leadership on this issue and the New York City Department of Education for spearheading this important effort.”

During RFA week, schools highlight and build upon ongoing diversity programs and curriculum-based instruction. Schools also have the opportunity to embark upon new initiatives that promote respect for diversity and engage students in meaningful lessons and/or other activities that focus on preventing bias-based harassment, intimidation and/or bullying.

“Making sure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students can learn in a safe and inclusive environment has been a top priority of mine for many years,” said Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “For as long as I can remember, LGBT students have had to hide their sexuality and deny their history. It’s time for this to change. I am very pleased that the Renaissance Charter is working with me to break down these barriers. We held a forum at the school today and I look forward to having these discussions in all our public schools.”

“Since its inception Respect for All Week has helped bring youth together around the City to celebrate all the differences that make us special as individuals,” said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “I am thrilled to once again partner with my alma mater, Bryant High School, in celebrating the LGBT community & LGBT youth. Over the years I have witnessed Respect for All Week provide LGBT youth with a safe platform to express themselves and celebrate who they are born to be with their fellow classmates and teachers.”

“We need to encourage all schools, particularly our public schools, to talk about discrimination and its impact on everyone,”said Council Member Rosie Mendez. “We need to encourage schools with and without Gay-Straight-Alliances to talk about the LGBTQ Movement and to engage in a conversation with young people about gender identity, sexual orientation, and preferred gender pronouns, as well as work to maintain and create safe spaces for LGBTQ Youth and their allies. In my district, I’m excited to work with High Schools during Respect for All Week and beyond the week.”

“Encouraging safe spaces for young people ─from all experiences─ to be themselves, and to be affirmed, continues to be a priority for me as an openly gay elected official, ” said Council Member Menchaca. “Unfortunately, those spaces don’t happen organically as often as they should. Respect For All Week offers us the opportunity to celebrate both the things that make us unique ─ and the places where our identities intersect. I commend the De Blasio administration, and my LGBT Caucus colleagues, for creating this space for young people to live their truth loudly, and with confidence. I look forward to participating in the RFA events taking place across District 38! ”

“Every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “It is our responsibility to ensure that our schools are free of bullying and bias-based harassment. On Respect For All Week, schools place special emphasis on promoting kindness and respect for diversity. I’m proud to be part of this effort. ”

“Our schools must be safe and inclusive learning environments where all students feel comfortable being who they are,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “Respect for All Week is a perfect example of how our schools can prevent bullying, harassment, and discrimination by teaching our students to love and respect diversity. I’m proud to support this initiative, and I look forward to participating in events in my district.”

Council Members will be joining diverse activities in their RFA Week districts, including:

• Council Member Dromm along with Speaker Mark Viverito kicked off RFA Week at an event today at 9am at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights.
• Speaker Mark Viverito will also attend an event at M.S. H.S. 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, this Friday, Feb. 13 at 8:30am. It is located at 360 East 145th Street, Bronx.
• Majority Leader Van Bramer will join an event at William Cullen Bryant High School on Friday, Feb. 13 at noon with several classes in their library. It is located on 4810 31st Avenue, Long Island City.
• Council Member Mendez will join an event at East Side Community High School on Friday, Feb. 13 at 9:30am. It is located at 420 East 12th Street, Lower East Side.
• Council Member Menchaca will join two events at Public School 95 on Thursday, Feb. 12th starting at 8:30am. It is located at 5010 6th Avenue, Brooklyn.
• Council Member Johnson will join an event at Public School 3‎ on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 9am. It is located on 490 Hudson Street, Chelsea. He will also visit Public School 33, Chelsea Prep on Friday, Feb. 14 at 10am. It is located on 281 9th Avenue, Chelsea.