"Every young person has a right to a sense of self-respect and dignity. In public education we serve the needs of all our students. Some are gay and lesbian and we need to serve them too. We're supposed to be teaching them to live in an increasingly diverse society. This shouldn't be a place where prejudice is fostered. It's where discrimination should be fought."
-Dr. Virginia Uribe, Founder, Project 10 (LA Times Interview, 1984)
Dr. Uribe's interest in the issues faced by lesbian and gay youth in schools began while doing research for her Ph.D. in psychology. A survey of the 10 largest school districts in the United States revealed a startling lack of support services for this target population. Not long after, she noted that an openly gay student at Fairfax High School named Chris had dropped out after he was continually harassed by fellow students. Further investigation showed that Chris had been kicked out of his home at age 14 after telling his parents he was gay. Fairfax was the fourth high school he had left after sexual harassment proved too much for him.
This incident served as the catalyst for Dr. Uribe who then spent months putting together counseling advice from experts that subsequently formed the foundation of what is now Project 10 (the name comes from the Kinsey sex research theory that 10% of the population is gay).
Almost immediately after its inception, the Traditional Values Coalition headed by Rev. Louis Sheldon, attacked Project 10 and Dr. Uribe through the media, through the State Assembly Education Committee which threatened to stop all funds coming to the Los Angeles Unified School District, and through phone calls registering displeasure from Sen. Jesse Helm’s office in Washington, D.C. After a day long hearing in June 1988, at which the school board refused to disband the Project 10 program, threats from the state legislature failed to materialize. Although initially unprepared for the attacks, Dr. Uribe soon found herself transformed into a formidable and vocal human rights activist.
Project 10 currently has groups or contact people in the majority of LAUSD’s high schools. Over the years it has expanded to include middle and continuation schools. Portions of the Project 10 model are replicated in schools across the country.