October 01, 2010

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Build Your Support

In the wake of multiple tragedies across the country, it's more important than ever to make sure you find Allies who can support the LGBT youth in your school all year long. This week, focus on increasing your supportive network to help make your Ally Week activities a success!

  • Educate the Educators: There are a lot of ways that your teachers can support Ally Week. Click here to print out the Educators Guide and give it to teachers you think would be interested.
  • Collaborate: Connect with other student clubs in your school and ask that they support and participate in Ally Week. They can join in your planned events or develop companion activities for members of their club. And check out the new Allied Clubs Meeting Guide below!
  • Find Community Support: It’s good to let local supportive community groups know of your events, especially if you’re holding a rally, training, or social. Notify and, if applicable, invite community groups. Also, there are 30 local GLSEN Chapters across the country. Click here to find out if one is near you!
  • Cross it Off: It’s possible that there are a few items on your to-do list that didn’t get completed in the past few weeks. Take some time to make sure that everyone is taking care of their tasks.

If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Ally Week please email us at info@allyweek.org.

And don't forget to join the conversation on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook Page and @DayofSilence on Twitter.

September 28, 2010

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Tell us YOUR Ally story and you could win an Ally Week t-shirt! We are looking for a few good stories on why Ally Week and Allies are important. Winning stories will be featured on the Day of Silence blog or the AllyWeek.org website and awarded an Ally Week t-shirt!

All you have to do is submit a short story about one of the following topics:

  • Why I need Allies at school;
  • Why I'm an Ally to LGBT youth;
  • My favorite Ally;
  • An Awesome Ally Week story.

You can write a short article (between 200-400 words), poem, drawing or painting, or submit a song or video! These should be true stories that tell your experience with Allies.

We will be awarding several stories a prize over the next few weeks, so please hurry to get yours in soon! Send submissions to info@allyweek.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

September 24, 2010

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Three Weeks until Ally Week!

You’re getting this email because you signed up to participate in the 6th annual Ally Week, October 18-22, 2010. Each week leading up to Ally Week we send you helpful organizing tips to help you plan and coordinate your Ally Week activities. Make sure to read through the whole email so you have the most up-to-date information!

The Next Step

Once you know what your group is doing for Ally Week, it’s time to let everyone know! Split up outreach tasks among your team members so that you each can contribute to getting the word out.

  • Register: Make sure all the members of your team also register their participation at www.studentorganizing.org.
  • Faculty Support: Ally Week is a student-led action, but school staff and faculty can still be involved. Educators can help you build your support for your Ally Week activities. Make sure to talk with supportive staff members early and let them know how they can support your organizing! And see NEW Ally Week Educator resources below!
  • Posters: Design posters to put up around school. Make sure to include the name of your club, the date of the event and contact info so people can get involved. And you can hold a party to design posters as a group. Don't have time? You can buy Ally Week posters at the GLSEN Store.
  • Follow Up: Make sure to have short meetings with your Ally Week Team every week. Can’t meet in person? Set up Yahoo or AIM chat to keep in touch and stay on top of tasks!
  • And don’t forget to schedule a Team meeting for next week!

If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Ally Week please email us at info@allyweek.org.

And don't forget to join the Ally Week conversation on Facebook.com/gaystraightalliances and @DayofSilence on Twitter.

September 22, 2010

>I've registered for Ally Week. When will I get my free materials? Will there be enough for my whole GSA?
We will be sending out your Ally Week organizing materials in the next few weeks. Each packet contains enough items for an individual's participation in Ally Week. That's why it is important for every member of your group to register by going to www.studentorganizing.org so you each can get your own packet.

And don't forget to update your mailing address in the My Profile section!

September 17, 2010

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Four weeks until Ally Week!

Ally Week is quickly approaching! Each week leading up to Ally Week we will be sending you helpful organizing tips to help you plan and coordinate your Ally Week activities.

Getting Started

We recommend you start planning for your Ally Week soon if you haven’t already. For this week focus on laying the groundwork for your organizing.

  • Register: Go to www.studentorganizing.org to register your participation in Ally Week so you can get a free packet of buttons, stickers and more! If you've already registered, make sure your address is up-to-date!
  • Gather Information: Find and print resources to help you start your planning and begin a discussion with the advisor of your GSA or student club, or another trusted faculty member. Get resources from AllyWeek.org/action.
  • Get Permission: Your Ally Week is likely to be more successful if the school approves of your activities. Research and follow the proper protocol for approving an activity at your school. Ask your supportive staff member to help. You can download a sample letter for your administration here [DOC].
  • Build a Team: Find peers who want to contribute. Talk to members of your GSA and/or other allies. Tell them about Ally Week and ask if they would be interested in getting involved. Make sure to check out the resources about building coalitions at www.allyweek.org.
  • Schedule for next week: Make sure to schedule a Team meeting with your supportive faculty member and interested students for the upcoming week to keep making progress!

If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Ally Week please email us at info@allyweek.org.

And don't forget to join the Ally Week conversation on Facebook.com/gaystraightalliances and @DayofSilence on Twitter.

September 10, 2010

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It’s time to kick off your organizing with Ally Week!

GLSEN and students across the country will celebrate Ally Week on October 18-22 in schools and communities nationwide. Ally Week is a week for students to plan events that serve to identify, support and celebrate Allies against anti-LGBT language, bullying and harassment in U.S. schools.

Identifying Allies helps you to be more effective in making schools safe for all. Here are three things you can do:

  1. Get FREE Ally Week products: Just sign up at studentorganizing.org and register your Ally Week activities soon and GLSEN will send you a packet that includes buttons, posters and stickers for you to use. Supplies are limited, so go NOW!
  2. Get Tools: There are a lot of organizing tools at AllyWeek.org to help make your Ally Week a success. You can download action resources, sticker templates, sample letters and more
  3. Get Connected: Join the conversation happening on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop about exciting announcements, ask questions and share ideas with Ally Week staff and other organizers like you!

If you have any questions, need additional support or want to tell us the great things you're doing for Ally Week, contact us at info@allyweek.org. We love to hear from you.

August 27, 2010

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Jonathan Del Arco plays a gay coroner on TNT's The Closer. He also works with GLSEN. Jonathan talks about his two passions on Entertainment Tonight tonight. You can check out an online version of the clip below and learn more about GLSEN's Respect Awards - Los Angeles, which Jonathan is helping organize, here.
August 25, 2010

>With back-to-school season is in full swing, we thought this would be a good time to introduce our 2010-11 GLSEN Student Ambassadors, a diverse group of 18 LGBT and non-LGBT students who will serve as GLSEN spokesyouth throughout the school year in traditional and social media.

You'll see the students in GLSEN videos; on our blog, on Facebook and Twitter talking about safe schools and respect; telling their story in the news and at GLSEN events; and simply being all-around amazing young people.

We got a chance to get to know the Ambassadors in July at GLSEN's Media and Safe Schools Summit, a four-day summit to empower students to learn how they can use media to help raise awareness about the need to make schools safe and respectful for everyone. You can see a bit of the highlights in the fancy photo sideshow below.

The Ambassadors got a chance to attend a Sheryl Crow concert as part of the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series, visit with out TruTV executive Marc Juris and spend several hours over two days with out country music singer and all-around fantastic person Chely Wright. Entertainment Tonight covered Chely's visit.

We'll be telling you more about each of the Ambassadors over the coming weeks.

Alyssa M. from Illinois
Annmarie O. from New York
Brandon H. from Maryland
Dominique W. from Massachusetts
Jason G. from California
Jesse E. from Pennsylvania
Jesse T. from New York
Joey K. from Pennsylvania
Lily G. from New York
Loan T. from North Carolina
Margot P. from Washington
Moriah R. from Ohio
Nowmee S. from Georgia
Red O. from California
Richard W. from Ohio
Ryan T. from Colorado
Saad D. from Texas
Zac T. from California

August 20, 2010

>Charles Pratt, a student in upstate New York, filed suit last April against his school district on claims that he faced severe anti-gay bullying and harassment before he was forced to drop out at age 15. Citing repeated pleas from his parents, Charles claims that district officials were aware of the harassment he faced but deliberately refused to help him. He is represented by Lambda Legal, which reports that he faced almost daily episodes of name-calling and physical intimidation. His sister, Ashley Petranchuk, is also suing the district for denying her rights to start a gay-straight alliance.

The Indian River Central School District has already filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion to participate as an "amicus curiae," or friend of the court, to help the court decide whether federal discrimination claims should be upheld and to prevent the case from being dismissed.

The Department of Justice intervened in a suit earlier this year in Mohawk, NY also under a Title IX based claim of bullying and discrimination. These cases may represent a new focus at the Department of Justice regarding preventing LGBT-based bullying and harassment.

The Department of Justice contends the arguments of the New York school district are incorrect, and therefore, could add a significant weight to Charles and Ashley’s case. However, the motion to dismiss remains pending.

For local news coverage, click here.
To read the official complaint filed by Lambda Legal, click here.

Submitted by Sara LaPlante
GLSEN Public Policy Intern

August 05, 2010

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GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard, who has a PhD in United States History from Columbia University, gave her initial reaction yesterday to Judge Vaughn Walker's decision to overturn California's Proposition 8. Today, Dr. Byard takes a deeper look at the decision and what it means beyond ruling that same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry. Check back Monday for Dr. Byard's look at how schools factored into Judge Walker's decision and the Prop 8 proponents' flawed arguments.

Proponents of California's Proposition 8 argued that allowing same-sex couples to marry would lead to public schools teaching that same-sex marriages are equal to heterosexual marriages – an outcome that they saw as disastrous. By failing to offer a single scrap of credible evidence at trial in support of Proposition 8, they have ensured that generations of students will learn just that, in studying Judge Vaughn Walker's landmark decision in Perry v. Schwartzenegger. Above and beyond the decision’s clarity on the equal status of same-sex and heterosexual relationships, however, Judge Walker has made another crucial contribution to a vision of a better America with his opinion in this case. Hopefully this additional lesson will make its way into our schools as well.

At an event in New York City in June, David Boies was quite clear about his goal for the initial trial in this case: establish a factual record of great clarity on the central issues for the rounds of appeal to come. A trial attorney of unparalleled skill and experience, Boies spoke movingly of his love for the American system of justice, and particularly for the practice of cross-examination, which requires the witness on the stand to respond substantively to direct questions posed by their opponents. By taking the key questions on head on, and confronting opponents in the courtroom, far from the media echo chamber, Boies felt that our court system would allow the discussion to cut through the noise to the facts. David Blankenhorn, you're not on Hannity anymore.

Boies was right. Brietbart beware. Tea Partiers take note. Propagandists of all stripes, you are on notice. Amidst Judge Walker's many bold statements and findings of fact is a simple citation of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 that is in its own right no less bold an assertion. Rule 702 holds that in order to be considered an “expert” by the federal courts, and to have your opinions and statements be given legal weight, you must be qualified by “knowledge, skill, experience, training or education,” and your testimony may only be admitted if it “is based upon sufficient facts or data” and “is the product of reliable principles and methods.” In simpler terms, you have to know what you’re talking about. In a society inundated with undifferentiated "content" and opinions often bolstered by nothing more than sheer volume, Judge Walker has reminded us of the standard by which information should be evaluated and categorized.

Whatever the impact of this ruling on the content of the curriculum vis-a-vis same-sex marriage, one can only hope that it will contribute to a fundamental renaissance of knowledge, expertise and respectful debate. If there is one thing that students in this diverse society should learn about in public schools, it is how to articulate and defend their points of view in a respectful, relevant and cogent way in the public square. Should Judge Walker's opinion prevail through many rounds of appeal, he will have left a truly monumental legacy. One element of that legacy will be his reassertion of the difference in standing between opinion and fact in a Constitutional system, and the grounding in reality required to give either credence and meaning in public discourse.

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