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News - December 1996

Lesbian and Gay Catalog Works to Help Stop Vilification and Torment of Kids Who Are (or Are Presumed to Be) Gay

(Washington, DC, January 24, 1997) - In a comprehensive effort to address homophobia in our schools, the leading lesbian and gay at-home shopping company, the Tzabaco Catalog, announced it will donate $100,000 to fund its new Safe Schools Initiative. In addition to providing cash grants to community organizations, the Initiative will make use of the Catalog's direct response channels to raise awareness of the topic with its millions of readers.

"Lesbian and gay youth struggle every day, not just with issues of 'fitting in' but with unrelenting verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Almost half of all gay and lesbian teens experience anti-gay violence during high school," said David H. Ring, Tzabaco's Chairman and CEO. "For the first time there is a network of agencies and organizations that are working to make the education system a secure environment for ALL students. The Tzabaco Safe Schools Initiative will provide valuable resources to these organizations, which have a wealth of talent, spirit and commitment, but virtually no money," said Ring.

At a reception in Washington, DC during the Inaugural activities, Ring presented a check for $25,000 to the Safe School Initiative's first beneficiary, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers' Network (GLSTN). Tzabaco recognized GLSTN's outstanding track record of creating constructive dialogue on issues of sexual orientation between parents, school boards and students. Jamie Nabozny, the Wisconsin high school student who won the landmark sexual orientation discrimination suit in 1996, was a special guest at the event.

"This gift is so important because it represents the first major corporate contribution to the national effort to support safe schools for lesbian and gay youth," said Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of GLSTN, an organization that brings together gay and straight teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens to combat homophobia in schools. "These funds will help underwrite the costs of our national and regional conferences and training institutes over the next two years," added Jennings.

Other activities already planned for the Initiative include support for the distribution and screening of "It's Elementary," the new film by Academy Award winning director, Debra Chasnoff, in which elementary schoolchildren talk about gay people. Nationally, Tzabaco will sponsor Back to School '97, a GLSTN campaign of letter-writing by gay adults to old high school teachers urging them to 'come out' in support of making schools a safer place for this current generation of kids. Locally, the Initiative will make additional grants to community-based groups working on the issue.

Throughout the year, Tzabaco will educate customers on the subject through the pages of the Catalog and will provide assiistance to participating organizations in their outreach and fundraising efforts. In addition, each fulfilled order of Tzabaco merchandise will be accompanied by printed materials informing people across the nation how they can help. Tzabaco's own in-bound telemarketing staff will collect donations to these agencies, with Tzabaco and other sponsors providing matching funds during specified pledge drives.

With more than two million copies mailed since its introduction one year ago, the Tzabaco Catalog brings a broad range of spirited merchandise including apparel, home and gift items to lesbian and gay people, their families and friends. The Company's goals are to deliver high customer satisfaction, portray gay people positively and support causes that are of importance to the communities it serves.

The Tzabaco Group, Inc., is a California Corporation. The Safe Schools Initiative is funded in part by the Tzabaco Catalog Lesbian and Gay Community Fund of the Tides Foundation. For further information, contact D. Stuart Harrison, Fund Advisor, telephone 415/647-9003, fax 415/647-8897, e-mail sharrison@aol.com or write to the Tzabaco Catalog Lesbian and Gay Community Fund, Post Office Box 460607, San Francisco, CA 94146-0607.

1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.