February 22, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!


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Peter Gomes (b. 1942) is an openly gay American Baptist minister and theologian at Harvard University’s Divinity School, despite the fact that his church still openly condemns the "gay lifestyle." Since coming out in 1991, Gomes has remained a strong advocate for a wider acceptance of gay and lesbian people in America. He offered prayer at the presidential inaugurals of both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He is also a well published author on theology. His work includes the national best-selling books The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Sermons, the Book of Wisdom for Daily Living.
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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 17, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!


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Bayard Rustin (1912 – 1987) began his career in activism when he was just a child by protesting against segregation alongside the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Throughout his life Rustin was involved in countless boycotts, protests, and initiatives aimed at protecting the civil rights of all minority groups. He was an expert in non-violent resistance having studied in India with leaders of their independence movement and organized many demonstrations of his own. Bayard played a pivotal role in the Black Civil Rights movement as an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. Leaders of the movement asked Bayard to stay out of the public spotlight, for fear of being associated with what was at the time his “illegal” life as a gay man. Rustin continued to advocate for civil rights until his death in 1987, including LGBT rights, a cause he adopted in the later part of his life.

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 15, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!


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"We need to ensure that all of our children are protected. I know that the only way to achieve this goal is to find common ground. We need to teach our children the simple message of respect for all. And we must do it now."

- Sirdeaner Walker

Sirdeaner Walker is the mother of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, who died by suicide after enduring constant bullying at school. Carl, who attended New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, was frequently taunted by anti-gay slurs even though he did not identify as gay. Since this tragedy, Sirdeaner Walker has campaigned ferociously against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in K-12 schools and in support of GLSEN. In July of 2009 she testified in front of the House Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (federal legislation to require that schools adopt anti-bullying policies).

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 11, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!

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Kye Allums (b. 1989) is the first publically transgender person to play NCAA Division I college basketball. Kye, a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., announced in November 2010 that while he identifies as male, he will continue playing on the women’s basketball team. Kye recognizes that the media attention around his coming out can provide visibility for the trans community. “I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are.” And Kye’s school supports him. Although the team is certain they’ll face difficulty from other communities when they travel, they’re committed to supporting Kye, says teammate Ivy Abonia, “As long as we’re united…we’re a team and we’re a family, we’ll be okay” (AP).

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 08, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!

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Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) was a novelist, playwright, writer and columnist. In a time when blackness was looked down upon in American Society, Hughes was unashamed and proud of his heritage (a theme that can be seen throughout his collection of work). While it is unclear that he identified as LGBT, some academics agree that there are gay undertones present in Langston’s poetry, citing many of his unpublished works which may have been written a male lover. Hughes was never open about his sexuality; he instead chose to focus on the struggle of his people in the African American community. Hughes is now recognized as one of the key figures in the Harlem Renaissance. He was honored with countless awards both during and after his life, has a middle school named in his honor and has even been included in a series of Black Heritage postal stamps. Langston served as a mentor for many young black writers of the 50’s and 60’s, one of whom described him as having "set a tone, a standard of brotherhood and friendship and cooperation, for all of us to follow.”

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 04, 2011

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GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!

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Pam Spaulding (b. 1963) is the editor/publisher of Pam’s House Blend (www.pamshouseblend.com), which was nationally recognized as Best LGBT Blog in both 2005 and 2006 by the Weblog Awards. Pam launched her blog in July 2004 in response to the anti-LGBT political climate of the time. The online magazine is visited by over 8,000 people daily. Pam has appeared as a commentator on CNN, as well as contributing to countless other LGBT-focused blogs. In 2006 she was recognized by The Monette-Horwitz Trust with the Distinguished Achievement Award for contributing significantly towards the eradication of homophobia. She is considered by many to be the most important lesbian blogger in America and continues to post daily on her blog from her home state of North Carolina.

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 03, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!

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Ruth Ellis (1899 – 2000) dedicated countless years of service to her community, and particularly black LGBT youth. In 1937 Ruth moved to Detroit with her partner Babe, the two bought a house, which from 1946 to 1971 was known as the “Gay Spot.” Not only did their home serve as a safe space for Detroit’s LGBT community, but the couple also offered lodging and support to many black LGBT youth in need. In a time before the Gay Civil Rights Movement began Ruth was a beacon of light for many LGBT youth who found themselves in the dark. In 1999 The Ruth Ellis Center was founded in Detroit, MI, which continues to offer lodging and support to LGBT youth in need. She continued working with LGBT organizations until her death in 2000 at an age of 101.

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 02, 2011

>GLSEN is proud to honor Black History Month by celebrating the contributions of the African American community to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Throughout February we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movements. Click here for more information, and keep reading all month long for new additions!

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Ruth Ellis (1899 – 2000) dedicated countless years of service to her community, and particularly black LGBT youth. In 1937 Ruth moved to Detroit with her partner Babe, the two bought a house, which from 1946 to 1971 was known as the “Gay Spot.” Not only did their home serve as a safe space for Detroit’s LGBT community, but the couple also offered lodging and support to many black LGBT youth in need. In a time before the Gay Civil Rights Movement began Ruth was a beacon of light for many LGBT youth who found themselves in the dark. In 1999 The Ruth Ellis Center was founded in Detroit, MI, which continues to offer lodging and support to LGBT youth in need. She continued working with LGBT organizations until her death in 2000 at an age of 101.

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We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!

February 01, 2011

>When I got the news this morning, I wasn’t sure if I was still dreaming: it appears that GLSEN has finished in second place in the Pepsi Refresh voting, winning $250,000 in support of our Safe Space Campaign. The official announcement of the results won’t take place until Feb. 23, but it looks as if we’ve done it.

Whatever the final results, I feel like GLSEN has already received something priceless – the outpouring of support from individuals and organizations standing with us in the last few days of the contest, generating a flood of votes that put us over the top. Our friends at The Progressive Slate, the coalition we joined as the voting started, were amazed by the GLSEN groundswell in the final days. It is really humbling, and my colleagues and I are so grateful.

This funding is going to a truly critical effort to make schools more welcoming places for LGBT students and any student dealing with anti-LGBT bias. The Safe Space Kits at the heart of our campaign make it possible for school staff to be visible as a source of support by putting up a Safe Space sticker or poster, and active as an agent of change by reaching out to their colleagues to discuss how the school community can come together to be truly safe and supportive for all students. Research has consistently demonstrated that supportive adults in a school community are crucial for a student’s well-being and success, and this funding will help promote adult support for LGBT students in 10,000 schools across the country.

I have to thank a lot of people and organizations in particular for their help: Chely Wright, spokesperson for the campaign and GLSEN’s great friend; Scott Zumwalt, Brian Pines, Thomas Gensemer and all our friends at It Gets Better; Gregory Lewis at True Colors Fund/Give a Damn Campaign, and Cyndi Lauper for her individual support as well; Cathy Nelson and Lindsey Twombly at HRC for getting the word out far and wide; The Trevor Project; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project; GLAAD; America’s Promise Alliance; the Ad Council; Anti-Violence Project; Joe Wilson and Out in the Silence; Eva Kolodner and the staff of the IRC; Eidolon Communications; Andrew Oldershaw and Fifteen Minutes; Fab.com; Hilary Duff; Perez Hilton; Kristin Chenoweth; Wilson Cruz; Jeri Ryan; Ben Cohen; Krisily Kennedy; Sara Rue; Del Shores; Larry Flick from Sirius Out Q The Morning Jolt; John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay at Americablog and Americablog Gay; Joe Jervis from Joe.My.God; DiversityInc; The Advocate; Out Magazine; Employee Resource Groups at all of our corporate partners but in particular FOX and Sodexo; our volunteer leadership bodies; GLSEN Chapters and student leaders; and Pepsi for the opportunity. And, of course, all of the thousands of individuals who actually turned out to vote and shared and tweeted with all their friends. I cannot thank you all – and all of the people and organizations I’m forgetting – enough.

I congratulate all our friends on The Progressive Slate – GLAD, Equality PA, PROMO Fund, Beth Meyer, Energy Action Coalition, JustGive.org, Netroots Nation, New Leaders Council, and Uncommon Good – and the Center for Progressive Leadership for organizing the coalition. A lot of critical support is going to very important causes from this round of funding. And we seem to have won one of the top prizes – fingers crossed. We could not have done this without the incredible support of so many, from so many different communities. My heart is full, and I thank you all so much.
Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director
January 31, 2011

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February is Black History Month, an important time to celebrate the contributions of the African American community. As part of GLSEN's Days of Support, we encourage GSA and student organizers to plan activities and events to recognize the importance of the Black community's involvement in the LGBT and safe schools movements. Below are a few things you can do:

Black History Month Heroes

Learn. Throughout February on the Day of Silence Blog we will be recognizing the African American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movement. Keep reading all month long for new additions!

Share. Download the Black History Month Heroes flier by clicking here. It's perfect for sharing! Print off copies and pass them out to members of your GSA, teachers and fellow classmates.

Post. We want to know who your heroes are! If you know an African American person who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence using the #GLSENBHM hash tag!


NEW! Sharing Communities GSA Activity Guide

It's easier to achieve success when you work together! For Black History Month we encourage your GSA to partner with your school's African-American student club for a joint learning project. This activity will offer an opportunity for members of your GSA to connect with another community and for another student club to learn more about the community of your GSA! Click here to download.

Join The Conversation

Go to the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page and @DayofSilence Twitter (don't forget to use #GLSENBHM) and tell us what you're doing for Black History Month!

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