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. He joined GLSEN’s Student Ambassadors team. He spoke on a cyberbullying panel hosted by Iowa’s Governor. He also went on to testify at a Senate committee hearing in Iowa chaired by Senator Tom Harkin to discuss the need for safer schools.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Senator Harkin introduced an education bill that included provisions from both SSIA and SNDA. We can’t help but believe this was partly made possible because of Matt.
We celebrate students like Matt and others who are working to make their own schools and communities better. These incredible young people continue to inspire and challenge GLSEN to work harder for a better tomorrow for every student in K-12 schools. Are you proud of a student leader in your community? Tweet to us about it using #GLSENPROUD.
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.
6 April – GLSEN Phoenix – Phoenix Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
4 May – GLSEN Massachusetts – Northhampton Pride – email@example.com
1 June - GLSEN Hawai’i – Honolulu Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
1 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Black and Latino Pride, Albany –email@example.com
2 June – GLSEN Central New Jersey -New Jersey Pride, Asbury Park –firstname.lastname@example.org
2 June – GLSEN Hudson Valley – New Paltz – email@example.com
8 June – GLSEN Kansas City – St. Joseph Pride, MO – firstname.lastname@example.org
8 June – GLSEN Northern Virginia – Capital Pride, DC – email@example.com
9 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Capital Pride, Albany – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN Middle Tennessee – Nashville Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Hudson Pride, Albany – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN Southern Maine – Portland Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
15-16 June – GLSEN West Michigan – West Michigan Pride, Grand Rapids –email@example.com
16 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
16 June – GLSEN Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Pride – email@example.com
20-22 June – GLSEN Omaha – Omaha Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
22 June - GLSEN East Tennessee – Knoxville Pride – email@example.com
22 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Schenectady Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Greater Cincinnati – Cincinnati Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Downeast Maine – Northern Maine Pride, Bangor –firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Houston – Houston Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Massachusetts – North Shore Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Tampa – St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg – email@example.com
30 June – GLSEN Washington State – Seattle Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
13 July – GLSEN San Diego – San Diego Pride – email@example.com
6 September – GLSEN Southern Nevada – Las Vegas Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
5 October – GLSEN Orlando – Orlando Pride – email@example.com
Don’t see your city represented? Check for a chapter in your area at www.glsen.org/chapters.
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!
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!
I really see our fight against bullying succeeding. This also has helped in my own battle against bullying and harassment at our school. I don't think I could have done it without the GSA at John R. Rogers High School.
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.
We were really becoming visible and the more visible we became, the more powerful we became.
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
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!
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!
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."
In 2012, the Erie Community Unit School District school board banned elementary school resources that teach respect for all families and address anti-LGBT name-calling. The district went further and banned GLSEN materials including programs like No Name-Calling Week, endorsed by more than 50 national education and youth organizations, and "Ready, Set Respect!," an elementary school toolkit created in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
"In our efforts to ensure that every school is a safe learning environment for all students, GLSEN relies a great deal on the commitment and partnership of local educators," said Dr. Robert McGarry, GLSEN's Director of Education. "Matthew's story reminds us of how incredibly challenging the work of these partners can be in many places. As we recognize Matthew as our Educator of the Year, we not only celebrate his commitment and perseverance in doing what's best for his students, but we thank him for being such a steadfast partner in our work."
Beck has been a leader in his elementary school and local community to ensure the availability of resources and support for students, parents and educators during challenging times in the school district.
In the past year, Beck helped his elementary school to continue its participation in GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week. Beck also succeeded in securing developmentally appropriate family diversity resources for the school's counseling office.
Beck also created a family reading night outside of the school to further engage the school community. The activity was designed to offer children the opportunity to share in reading and discussing developmentally appropriate LGBT family-inclusive books.
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.
As someone who has both witnessed bullying of others in addition to experiencing bullying myself, I find it comforting to know that Congresswoman Lee and others like her are actively working towards making sure that everyone feels included in school.
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
Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ)? Are you between 13 and 18 years old? Are you in school currently (or have you been in school recently)? Then SPEAK OUT and help inform education policymakers and the public about what's really going on in our nation's schools.
The 2013 National School Climate Survey is GLSEN's eighth national survey of LGBTQ youth. It is a crucial tool in GLSEN's mission to fight anti-LGBT bias in K-12 schools across the nation. The information gathered from this survey will help GLSEN to inform education policymakers and the public about the right of all students to be treated with respect in their schools. Many students in the past have also used the survey information to advocate with their teachers and principals for safer schools for LGBT students. The survey is completely anonymous.
The survey is available in English and Spanish and asks questions about your experiences in school, including hearing homophobic remarks, being harassed because of your sexual orientation and/or how you express your gender and how supportive your school is of LGBT students.
If you have any questions about the survey, contact Dr. Neal Palmer, Research Associate, at firstname.lastname@example.org. A report of findings from the 2013 National School Climate Survey will be available in Fall 2014. If you would like to see how GLSEN has used the survey information in past years, you can see key findings from our 2011 survey or read the full report by going here: 2011 National School Climate Survey.
Liam Arne, a high school student, from Manassas City, Virgina is one of the winners of the Megan Rapinoe Changing the Game contest. Check out Liam’s winning entry, where he discusses his experiences with homophobia in sports.
"As a gay former athlete, I identify strongly with Megan Rapinoe's bravery. I admire her for coming out and supporting LGBTQ student athletes through GLSEN’s Changing the Game. In school athletics, I have experienced an overpowering sense of homophobia from my not only peers, but also teachers. As I was beginning to discover who I was in middle school, this permeating homophobia and transphobia haunted me on my school's track team and step team, as well as a competitive community swim team and the occasional tennis court. Not a single practice or meet could pass by without at least one member of the team, a team that was supposed to provide me with a comfortable and accepting community, disavow who I was without realizing it. Hateful and prejudicial words and phrases were often used by my teammates. Worst of all, my coaches sanctioned these harmful expressions by using them themselves.
I came to realize that I could never fit in with my teams, just because I am gay. Ultimately, the homophobic gestures of my peers and adult sponsors who were supposed to provide a fun and fair experience made me so uncomfortable that I chose to abandon sports altogether. I am now proud to once again start calling myself a gay athlete since players like Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers have courageously come out, stood up and called for an end to the injustice. No student deserves to cut short their athletic pursuits simply because of homophobia. GLSEN and Megan Rapinoe are taking steps to change that for the future."
Join us in congratulating Liam by posting your Selfie for Sports and tell us what you are doing to Change The Game!