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Fundraiser and book signing to benefit CESCaL educators conference

SAN DIEGO -- To raise money for the only annual national educator conference focused on LGBTQ youth - Supporting Students ~ Saving Lives - a fundraiser and book release party will be held Thursday, Oct. 4, at the At HOM store in Little Italy.

Event organizers hope that community members will come out and support the fundraiser, especially in light of the startling statistics:

- Nine out of 10 LGBT students are harassed at school.

- LGBT students are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide.

- LGBTQ students have a dropout rate three times the national average.

The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL), a San Diego-based non-profit, will host the fourth annual educator conference on Feb. 15-17, 2013 in hopes of making a dent in these statistics.

CESCaL brings in the best national LGBTQ advocacy organizations and educator associations to train, provide resources, and empower educators to create needed change in schools. Some of those organizations include: GLSEN, Trevor Project, PFLAG, True Colors Fund, American Psychological Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and many more.

Perez Hilton, who was accused of being a bully by Jennifer Aniston and publicly changed his ways as a result, recently joined CESCaL’s National Advisory Board. Hilton commented that CESCaL’s conference “is about providing LGBTQ students with an equitable chance at thriving in life; we just need to share with educators the best practices and resources to do that.”

Last year’s conference brought together 500 educators from 29 states and three countries. After being mentioned in national magazines and receiving coverage from CNN, the conference was recognized by President Obama.

With all that acknowledgement, one might think educators are flocking to San Diego to attend CESCaL’s conference. Unfortunately, according to Vinnie Pompei, CESCaL’s Project Director and Conference Chair, "The problem is that due to harsh budget cuts in education, districts are no longer sending educators to conferences, and they are not providing needed district training on effectively working with LGBTQ students.”

Catherine Mattice, an author planning a book release party for her book, "BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work," heard about CESCaL's needs and decided to join forces with the organization. The book, which was written for targets of adult bullying in the workplace and offers a comprehensive list of tools adults can use to end bullying, was recognized by business guru Ken Blanchard as “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic” of workplace bullying.

“I combined forces with CESCaL to hold a fundraiser because I really believe in what they are doing -- they are arming educators with the information they need to proactively end bullying in schools. Joining forces is a great way to help them bring educators to their conference, and to create awareness that bullying happens among adults at work too,” Mattice said.

Several local high-profile individuals are expected to attend Thursday's fundraiser, including Kevin Beiser, the San Diego school board member best known for pushing anti-bullying policies in schools, and San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria. Representatives from the offices of Assemblymember and Majority Floor Leader Toni Atkins and Mayor Jerry Sanders are also expected to attend.

Walter G. Meyer, author of the book, "Rounding Third," a novel that deals powerfully with the topic of teens being bullied will be in attendance as well.

Thursday's combined fundraiser and book release party will be held from 6-9 pm at AT-HOM furniture store in Little Italy, located at 2310 Kettner Blvd. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres, donated by Barrio Star and Pita Jungle, and wine will be served.

Those who are unable to attend the fundraiser but wish to contribute toward an educator scholarship or sponsor an educator to attend the February conference can click HERE for more information or to donate. Conference registration is also open and interested participants can visit the website for more information or to to register. Early bird pricing is available through December.

More information about the fundraiser event is HERE.