Out for Equity is one of only five school-based programs nationally serving LGBTQIA students, families, and staff. Developed in 1993, then later adopted into the Saint Paul Public School district in 1997, Out for Equity has grown from a direct support agency for LGBTQIA youth, to a fully integrated program that not only supplies direct support to LGBTQIA students, but provides services to all students, families and staff in order to foster respect for all in Saint Paul.
The Program has its roots in The “Consultation Project on Homophobia in Saint Paul Schools” which was created in 1987 by a partnership Wingspan Ministries and a group of educators and community members. Another program was then started by the Youth and AIDS Project in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Health and Wellness Department in Saint Paul Public Schools to increase understanding about prevention of HIV/AIDS and concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex, and asexual/aromantic youth at increased risk for infection, self-destructive behavior, and violence. High schools in Saint Paul, beginning with Saint Paul Central High School in 1990, began forming support groups to further address the growing concerns of LGBTQIA students.
In 1991, Mary Tinucci, a school social worker and a member of the Consultation Project since its inception, began planning a more comprehensive and institutionalized effort within the Saint Paul Public School district regarding LGBTQ individuals. In the fall of 1993 Tinucci and others within SPPS drafted a proposal to present to district administrators calling for a new department to address the needs of LGBTQIA students, staff, and families district-wide. In November 1993, the department of Guidance, Counseling, and Related Services pursued the proposed idea. A proposal to the school board was prepared, and in early March 1994,the school board voted (6-1) to allow the Guidance, Counseling, and Related Services department to seek and accept funding for the new program.
Modeling the program after the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Project 10, Mary Tinucci began forming a clearer picture of Saint Paul’s new program, named Out for Equity, and its goals: to maintain a safe and welcoming school environment that fosters positive self esteem, respect for others, and academic success for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students, staff members and families.