Orange County schools: LGBTQ students are safe, accepted

OCPS partners with Zebra Coalition for LGBTQ Awareness Month

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – October has been designed LGBTQ Awareness Month by Orange County Public Schools.

According to Mary Bridges, executive director of student services at OCSP, 16% of their students identify as LGBTQ. Bridges says the goal is to make sure all students know they are safe and accepted at school.

"So really just to know that there is someone at that school of that the school is embracing them, that they see themselves in activities and things like that," she said.

OCPS partners with the Zebra Coalition. The Zebra Coalition serves and inspires LGBTQ youth. It also provides mental health counseling and housing opportunities as well.

"Often times they have experiences social isolation, bullying, have maybe mental health needs that are specific to societal problems and sometimes they are at a greater risk for unhealthy behaviors," said executive director Heather Wilkie.

The Zebra Coalition assists OCPS with training teachers and faculty on how to be allies and how to support LGBTQ students.

"And just to know that there's a teacher or administrator who supports me for who I am really does help a young person succeed in the long term," Wilkie said.

If you'd like to volunteer or make a donation to the Zebra Coalition, visit their website at

About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.