June 21, 2013
Just a few minutes ago, the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education made a groundbreaking announcement – it intends to collect data in schools nationwide about anti-LGBT bullying as part of its Civil Rights Data Collection, an influential survey that is used to inform government action.
I’m proud to say that GLSEN’s longtime leadership in Washington urging the government to take action played an integral role in making this change happen. You won’t believe the interaction I witnessed firsthand that confirmed that in the most amazing way! But before I tell you that story, first back to what this change means.
This amazing development is something to celebrate and hopefully a trend of good news coming out of Washington in the coming days. Making civil rights data collection LGBT-inclusive is a critical step toward ensuring LGBT students’ civil rights. It also will further document the need for schools and policymakers to take action to ensure that LGBT students have equal access to a quality education.
But the backstory to this major advance is also incredibly exciting.
On May 22, I was at the White House for a Harvey Milk Day event, accompanying a delegation of GLSEN student leaders and staff. As we waited for the program to begin, a senior official from the Department of Education came running over to one of our students, Liam Arne.
“I need to shake your hand,” he said. “Because of you, the Secretary of Education is adding LGBT students to one of the most important Department of Education data collection instruments. You asked in that meeting, and afterward he told us to get it done!”
A few months earlier, we had taken Liam and three other GLSEN student leaders to meet Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. These amazing students wanted to stand up to make a change, and we gave them an opportunity to tell their stories directly to Secretary Duncan in support of action that would create immediate and lasting impact.
LGBT-inclusive data collection may seem like a wonky goal. But let me tell you, data drives decision-making, and what is measured is what is valued when it comes to government action. Liam, one of GLSEN’s amazing student leaders, secured a huge advance for LGBT youth nationwide.
That makes me #GLSENProud.
GLSEN’s student leadership development programs support students like Liam Arne in making an amazing difference. We need your help to keep driving progress! Please consider a donation to help us continue to support students like Liam bring hope for a better tomorrow for LGBT youth.
Image courtesy of Department of Education, used under Creative Commons
June 19, 2013
GLSEN is very fortunate to have a diverse group of supporters that understand our safe schools and why it’s so significant to improving our education system. Support can be a monthly gift to someone designating a portion of their estate to GLSEN in their will.
We’d like to take a minute to give a shout out to AT&T, one of our loyal corporate partners.
June 17, 2013
As we continue our #GLSENPROUD celebration this Pride Month, today I want to tell you about GLSEN Student Ambassador Matt Shankles, a shining example of how students really can make a difference.
A native of Marion, Iowa, Matt faced his own set of challenges at school when he came out as LGBT. He experienced name-calling, bullying and harassment from his peers simply for being himself.
Matt chose to take action. He looked for ways to change his school climate. He began a Twitter campaign to tweet encouragement to students who had been bullied.
Matt also participated in GLSEN’s Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in Washington where he met with lawmakers to push for the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
But Matt’s work didn’t stop there. Continue Reading »
June 7, 2013
Across the country, GLSEN chapters have been and continue to participate in Pride events to raise awareness about their work to make school climate better for all within their local communities. They’re bringing together local students, educators, parents and other community members to table, march and be proud.
Join us in being #GLSENPROUD now! Dates and contact information are below. Continue Reading »
June 5, 2013
GLSEN is proud of…
Here at GLSEN we have so much to be proud of – including yesterday’s major milestone for the Safe School Improvement Act – and supporters like you make this work happen! GLSEN’s victories – large and small – can be found everywhere.
As we enter Pride Month, we want to share some news that has us beaming with pride. Be on the lookout for a few of these stories in your inbox this month that we hope will leave you inspired and energized.
We also have a surprise (or two) planned for this month to express appreciation for our loyal supporters.
To kick off Pride month, would you share with GLSEN what makes you proud and use #GLSENPROUD on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr when you do? Snap a photo with our sign sharing what fills you with pride and send it to us on your favorite social network.
Stay tuned throughout the month as we share our pride with you!
June 5, 2013
Rogers High School is in Spokane, WA. Their GSA was a finalist for the GSA of the Year 2013 award!
When I started high school, I already knew about the GSA here but I didn’t start going until the end of my Junior year. I was just so scared I wouldn’t be accepted for who I truly am (I am physically a girl but identify as a male). Since going, I have participated in my first Drag Show and have had people call me by the gender I prefer. I have met some amazing people, not only in our GSA but in the entire LGBT community. We have had some guest speakers (Members of the Spokane Imperial Court and Kris Wood, a Rogers grad who actually began the GSA here in the 1990′s) and I have learned that things do get better after high school, or even in high school.
One of my favorite activities we have done in our GSA is organizing the Day of Silence. When we set up our table in the commons and hand out ribbons and instructions, we got almost 300 participants!
In addition, I don’t think we could have been as successful as we have been at making our school and safe and accepting place for all without the help and leadership of GLSEN. They really helped shape who we are.
- Teddie, club secretary
I didn’t know what GSA was or even if we had one when I started here. So, my friend told me about the GSA at our school. I attended a meeting and after that day, I was a member, a part of a family, kind of scared of what would happen. But I always had the support of our advisor, Ms. Silvey. My first two years were rocky and we were really trying to just figure out what type of role we should have in our school. Up until we found GLSEN, we saw all the things we could do to reach out to our school and community.
We started with holiday parties (Valentine’s and Christmas) where we invited other high schools and even though we had a small turnout at first, we were starting to reach out and connect. During my junior year, I became Vice President. That was a huge step for me. I started being more involved with my club and our school. We started writing to teachers and other staff members and thanking them for supporting us. We also sent thank you notes to Starbucks for their support of Gay Marriage. We marched in the PRIDE Parade with a giant banner.
Let’s just say the last four years in our GSA made me stronger and prouder, safer and truly loved. I couldn’t have even imagined that when I first got to Rogers I would be a part of this community. I can’t thank our Advisor, Ms.Silvey, enough for letting me join and Rogers High School for supporting our GSA
June 4, 2013
Well hello everyone, my name is Christoph Sawyer. Chances are you haven’t heard of me before; That’s because I just started working here at GLSEN as a Summer Communications Intern. While I may be new to the office, this is not the first time I have been involved with GLSEN; it’s probably best to start from the beginning…
It was on September 12th 1993 that Christoph was born…errrm…sorry, I think that’s too early. I attended high school at John Jay HS in Westchester County, New York. It was while I was in high school that I became a LGBT youth leader. What really motivated me to pursue being a leader was my experience during GLSEN’s 2011 Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, where I was selected to lobby for GLSEN to gain support from Senators and Representatives for two of their acts. I was very excited to lobby on Capital Hill but, little did I know how this trip would forever transform my life.
When I came out in high school I faced no bullying or harassment, but faced oppression due to the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy. During most of my trip in DC I was incredibly anxious about what I would use as my platform about why schools need to be more inclusive and safer, because I had lived such a safe life. It was one night during dinner that I heard two stories that would forever resinate with me and sparked the fire that is why I advocate for LGBT youth. The first story was told by a sister whose brother faced significant bullying simply because he was perceived to be gay. Her brother was 11 years old! I could not believe what I had heard. The next story was told by a mother whose son also faced significant anti-gay bullying, a son who was helping and advocating for other gay youth. To hear these stories about young men who were so harassed and bullied, and to see the look on the face of their loved ones and how upset they were was life altering. It is here where my journey with GLSEN began and where my advocating started.
After such an inspiring trip with GLSEN I decided to become much more involved with my Gay-Straight Alliance and my local GLSEN chapter. As a GLSEN Jump-Start member I presented several times to different schools in my area about how to stop bullying, stand up for others, to accept others, and eventually I went on to organize my own events. It was during my senior year, as part of my fim class that I made a 10 minute documentary about different LGBT individuals’ experience in high school, and what they thought needs to be done to further acceptance in society. I visited the GLSEN national headquarters in New York City to interview different members in the GLSEN office like Andy Marra, Jenny Betz, and Ricardo Martinez. My film was unbelievably well received. I have now shown the film numerous times and to many audiences. These audiences include the Jacob Burns Film Center, John Jay HS’s 2nd Film Festival, GLSEN Hudson Valley members, PepsiCo’s EQUAL group, and my own college, Clark University.
This brings us to the present. Like I said, I am now interning in the Communications Department at GLSEN National in New York, and am incredibly happy doing so. I am a sophomore at Clark University studying Computer Science with a minor in Innovation/Entrepreneurship. My film and everything that has come out of it have been my second greatest achievement (my first being achieving the rank of Eagle Scout).
Below is my film. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!
June 4, 2013
Today Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced a bill to overhaul the nation’s education system and replace No Child Left Behind. The Senate’s bill includes critical protections for all students, including LGBT youth, with anti-bullying provisions from the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and nondiscrimination provisions from the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), bills GLSEN has been fighting for for years.
Senator Harkin and the HELP Committee needs to hear from you! Send a message to the committee thanking them for including LGBT students in this long overdue legislation, and showing them that we have their backs as the bill moves forward!
May 17, 2013
GLSEN is proud to announce the selection of Matthew Beck as our 2013 Educator of the Year, presented by Sodexo. Beck is a school counselor at Erie Elementary School in Erie, Illinois.
The Educator of the Year award recognizes an exceptional education professional who has enriched his or her community by ensuring that all students, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, are safe from bullying and harassment. The award honors an educator who works not only to ensure safety, but impacts measurable change that is visible within that person’s school district and community.
“As a professional school counselor who embraces children for who they are, I am thankful and honored to highlight our present and future work towards ensuring that all our students feel safe, secure, and welcomed,” said Matthew Beck. “GLSEN’s Educator of the Year award inspires me to lead educational conversations about respect and to prepare school communities to be the advocate and role model that all students deserve. I am proud and honored to work alongside Erie educators who model perseverance and hope to all youth when handling setbacks in life and ensuring children come first.”
May 17, 2013
Here at GLSEN, we are very excited today to learn that Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced a House resolution that recognizes the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
In the resolution, statistics from GLSEN’s 2011 Climate Survey are even cited to emphasize the large population of students who felt unsafe at their schools. It means a lot to us to know that we have the support of Congresswoman Lee who, like us, believes that bigotry, hatred and discrimination are unacceptable.
Actions like that of Congresswoman Lee are small steps toward abolishing discrimination and ensuring schools are safe for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Rohan Mackle, GLSEN Student Ambassador & Policy Intern