My memories of high school are filled with power. Shouting at a podium in front of the Nebraska State Capitol demanding equity for LGBTQ folks. Celebrating in the halls of my high school after my friend Jordy informed me that the anti-bullying bill for which we had just lobbied made it out of committee. Having my theater teacher tell me, “I heard you’re coming out. I wanted to let you know that we love and support you.”
My memories of high school are also filled with friends’ stories of being followed into bathrooms, on the way home, in school hallways by people yelling slurs and threats that still make me cringe. One friend telling me in a quiet, disassociated voice, “I wish I wasn’t gay.” Hearing politician after politician demean me and my community repeatedly and with vitriol.
While these memories were being created, GLSEN gave me the opportunity to become part of a national student leadership team called JumpStart. GLSEN taught me and many other high school students how to start GSAs, press interaction skills and how to become leaders. I learned the word oppression, and most importantly, how to organize around its eradication. GLSEN gave me a foundation upon which much of my commitment towards social justice was built. For that, I am beyond grateful.
After graduating from Wesleyan University, I am now about to begin my second year at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, studying Public Policy and Non-Profit Management. I’ve realized that work to end racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and so many other societal institutions that hurt people requires approaches from every direction. I’m particularly interested in how policy and research can be used to reduce the number of trans* people, people of color, and queer youth entangled in the criminal justice system.
While working at GLSEN this summer, I’ve been able to put my super-nerdy love for research to work towards safer schools. I’ve been conducting local outreach for the 2013 National School Climate Survey. I’ve also been working with GLSEN Research Assistant Maddy Boesen on further documenting the experience of LGBTQ high school athletes. We know that, overall, high school students who participate in interscholastic athletics have positive outcomes regarding GPAs and feelings of school connectedness. We’re curious if these and others outcomes hold true for LGBTQ high school athletes.
I am thrilled to be working with GLSEN this summer and to continue working towards safe schools for all students.
As countries and institutions around the world begin to acknowledge, research and address LGBT issues in education, GLSEN is recognized internationally as the pioneer in the field. Aside from being the first NGO in the world to address anti-LGBT bias and behavior on a national scale, GLSEN is also respected for our groundbreaking research and evidence-based programs that have led to a positive impact on school climate.
In the past month, our Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, spoke at three international events addressing LGBT issues in education:
LGBT Youth & Social Inclusion Conference, An Associated EU Presidency event, in Ireland (as keynote)
XV Comparative Education World Congress in Argentina (panel discussions along with Dr. Joseph Kosciw, GLSEN Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives)
Todo Mejora/UNESCO symposium in Chile (keynote)
Also check out Dr. Kosciw's blog post highlighting GLSEN's work with UNESCO to create a Global Network to Combat Anti-LGBT Prejudice and Violence in Schools, which also met
GLSEN and UNESCO recently hosted a convening of 24 institutions from around the world that are researching and/or working to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in primary and secondary education and among youth. Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Joseph Kosciw, shares the backstory to this historic event.
In recent years, GLSEN has also seen increasing international attention to the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in schools, and a growing concern regarding anti-LGBT violence and bias directed at youth as a serious human rights concern and barrier to global development goals. Although most of GLSEN's work has been focused domestically in the United States, we have a history of providing technical assistance to NGOs and university faculty in other countries regarding best practices both in researching school climate issues and in developing programs to prevent and curtail bullying and violence in schools.
UNESCO has recently articulated a need for more research on LGBT students globally, particularly in developing countries, and begun to host new initiatives, including the first-ever international consultation on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, which was accompanied by two related publications: “Review of Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions” and “Education Sector Responses to Homophobic Bullying.” Findings from UNESCO’s international consultation suggest that in many countries, civil society organizations have played an important role in addressing homophobic bullying by documenting the extent of the problem, thereby providing the evidence base for both advocacy and program development.
This past year, in the interest of infusing LGBT issues into the international education discussion, GLSEN sought submissions for papers about LGBT students' experiences and homophobic and transphobic bullying internationally for an international education research conference, the World Comparative Education Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. GLSEN received proposals from NGOs and researchers from more than 15 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. In June, all four of our panel proposals on homophobic and transphobic bullying and the experiences of LGBT students worldwide were presented at the World Congress: 1) school climate, 2) international landscape, 3) supportive educators, and 4) effective interventions. We received a small planning grant from a U.S. foundation for this event and are raising additional funds to enable us to bring representatives of organizations from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, and Turkey to the event and our convening.
To capitalize on the amazing brain power of this global group of activists and scholars, GLSEN, in partnership with UNESCO, coordinated an all day meeting with this group of activists and scholars working in different countries – to strategize about how to coordinate our collective resources and knowledge to reduce homophobic and transphobic prejudice and violence in schools globally. Some of the core priorities identified for future work included: comparative research study across countries, developing a central repository for global LGBT-related educational resources, and developing a roadmap re: world organizations and their work/funding on school climate and on LGBT issues. We are thankful for the financial support from the Arcus Foundation and IBM that allowed us to begin these conversations and the planning to support a global effort. As someone who is extremely committed to doing research in service of advocacy, I am personally awestruck and empowered by the magnificent research, program and advocacy work that these organizations have been doing to improve the lives of LGBT youth worldwide and to make schools safer and more respectful for all students!
Hello everyone! My name is Ari Himber. I am the new Community Initiatives intern at the GLSEN New York City office. I am entering my sophomore year at Baruch College where I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs. I intend to devote much of my career to education.
I am motivated to work for GLSEN because I have had a lot of experience with bullying and oppression. I was harassed in the Orthodox Jewish high school I attended for being queer and an atheist, as well as for my political views; many of my close friends were similarly oppressed. I was the first "out" student in my school, and I had issues with both students and faculty on occasion because of it.
However, it was not just my own experience with bullies that motivates me – it is the systematic silencing that LGBTQ people face in the American education system. We learn about Martin Luther King but not Bayard Rustin; we read "A Streetcar Named Desire" but do not discuss that Tennessee Williams was queer. Obviously, this does not apply to every teacher and school – but it is a pervasive, oppressive means of denying LGBTQ people the role models they may look up to. Not every school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, a guidance counselor who is trained to help LGBTQ students and faculty, or an administration that is willing to step in and put a stop to the explicit bullying queer students face daily.
I am working for GLSEN because I believe in its mission: that we must value and respect all people and their contributions, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. My work in the Community Initiatives department at GLSEN will help advance this mission by helping to map out the organization’s chapter-work calendar so that the organization can more proactively support chapter work nation-wide. I will also be working on the constituent engagement database and reviewing the new GLSEN website for organizational clarity and consistency.
Happy (day after) Pride!
Dozens of staff, chapter leaders, student leaders, friends and even a few of our youngest supporters joined GLSEN's contingent yesterday at the New York City Pride March. We proudly chanted for safer and more affirming schools as we walked down 5th Avenue and Christopher Street with our partners It Gets Better, The Point Foundation and Wells Fargo. Thanks to all who cheered us on. Check out the slideshow to see just how fun and inspiring the trek through the heart of NYC can be.
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.
This year AT&T sponsored GLSEN’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award. The recognition is given to a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure that all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Farrington High School’s GSA was selected as the 2013 GSA of the Year for extensive work in their school and Honolulu’s local community.
GSA student leaders and faculty advisors traveled to New York to accept the award at GLSEN’s Respect Awards. Scott Sapperstein, AT&T’s Executive Director of External Affairs was on hand to represent his company and co-present the national honor. And Scott recently blogged about his experience at the Respect Awards and why AT&T is a long-standing supporter of the LGBT community.
“I am proud to work for a company that not only values diversity of its employees but supports organizations like GLSEN who are working to ensure that schools are a safe space for all students.
Thanks to Scott and the rest of AT&T for their ongoing commitment to GLSEN’s work. And “thank you” to our many other donors that invest in GLSEN to change schools for the better. We simply couldn’t do the work without you.
Did you miss the Respect Awards held in New York? Visit our recap page to browse through photos, watch videos and read about this exciting evening that raised a million dollars for our safe schools work.
And don’t forget! GLSEN’s Respect Awards in Los Angeles take place on October 18. Check GLSEN.org for breaking news about our honorees, event info and how you can be a part of this glamorous night.
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