March 08, 2010

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The Day of Silence is coming up quickly! Each week we will posting helpful organizing tips to help you plan and coordinate your Day of Silence activities.

Week 6 (March 8-12): Getting Started


We recommend you start planning for your Day of Silence at least six weeks before the event if you haven’t already. For this week focus on laying the groundwork for your organizing.

  • Register: Go to www.dayofsilence.org and register your participation in the Day of Silence. If you're already registered, make sure to update your address on www.studentorganizing.org so we
    Publish Post
    can send you free DOS products.

  • Gather Information: Find resources to help you start your planning on www.dayofsilence.org.

  • Find Support: Discuss your participation with the advisor of your GSA or student club, or another trusted faculty member. It’s a good idea to print out resources from www.dayofsilence.org to give to potential supportive faculty.

  • Get Permission: Your Day of Silence 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.

  • Build a Team: Find peers who want to contribute. Talk to members of your GSA and/or other allies. Tell them about the Day of Silence and ask if they would be interested in getting involved. Make sure to check out the resources about building coalitions at www.dayofsilence.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 Day of Silence please email us at info@dayofsilence.org.

And don't forget to join the conversation on the Day of Silence Facebook Page and @DayofSilence on Twitter.

Best of luck, and happy organizing!

February 12, 2010

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From any angle, February 12th is the anniversary of two lives' destruction by homophobia and the inability of the two boys' families, school and relevant social service agencies to deal effectively with the escalating conflict between them. Experts on bullying agree that any bullying situation involves two young people who need help--the target and the perpetrator. Both Brandon and Larry had already led difficult lives, and needed something more than their communities were able to give them.

Read more here from GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.

February 09, 2010

>Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Lawrence "Larry" King, a 15-year-old eighth-grader from E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., who was killed by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.

Vigils to remember Larry King and bring attention to the need to address anti-LGBT violence in schools will take place across the country. To find one in your area or to register a vigil or event, visit http://www.rememberinglawrence.org.

Here's a look back at some celebrity PSAs done to remember Larry and raise awareness.

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February 09, 2010

>Cross-posted at blog.glsen.org.

Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Lawrence "Larry" King, a 15-year-old eighth-grader from E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., who was killed by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.

Vigils to remember Larry King and bring attention to the need to address anti-LGBT violence in schools will take place across the country. To find one in your area or to register a vigil or event, visit http://www.rememberinglawrence.org/.

Here's a look back at some celebrity PSAs done to remember Larry and raise awareness.

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February 08, 2010

>Two Iowa Republican state legislators have introduced a bill that would remove sexual orientation and gender identity/expression from a list of enumerated categories already listed in the state's anti-bullying law.

The reason, beyond wanting to see LGBT students bullied? To use children as pawns.

Schultz told NBC affiliate WHO-TV that the rationale behind the move is to force a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, since the Iowa Supreme Court pointed to laws like Iowa’s Safe Schools Law in making its April decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Iowa Pride Network Executive Director Ryan Roemerman summed it up well.

“When our state is facing record budget deficits and unemployment, House Republicans feel their time is best spent picking on Iowa’s LGBT youth.”

Iowa Pride Network also recently released its 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey, which found that more than 3 out of 4 Iowa LGBT students had been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

February 05, 2010

>Last week, U.S. Representative Jared Polis and 60 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), a bill that would institute protections in public schools against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Federal law already prohibits discrimination in schools on the basis of race, nationality, gender, religion and disability, and it's great that Solis and other members of Congress understand the need to extend these statutes. As GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey revealed, nearly 9 in 10 LGBT middle and high school students have faced some form of bullying or harassment--whether verbal or physical--in school. Passing and enacting SNDA is a huge step forward in combating these alarming figures.

SNDA has already seen wide support from an array of professional and advocacy organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund and the School Social Work Association (not to mention GLSEN!). Recently, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) threw its support behind SNDA, citing the detrimental effects that bullying and harassment can have on students' emotional well-being and academic performance. As NAASP's Executive Director, Gerald N. Tirozzi, stated:

A safe and secure learning environment is vital to the educational success of all students...This legislation will enhance the ability of teachers and administrators to deliver a valuable education in public schools that are free of bullying, harassment and other forms of harmful discrimination.

It's great to see that national education organizations such as NASSP recognize the need to protect and best serve all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Be sure to stay tuned to the GLSEN Blog--we'll be providing updates about SNDA as the bill moves forward in Congress!

February 05, 2010

>Rep. Jared Polis introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act last week to protect students from discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

Chris Johnson from DC Agenda, whose staff comprises much of the former Washington Blade reporters and editors, wrote a nice article about the bill, including some good news from the White House.

The White House also expressed support for the legislation in response to a query from DC Agenda.

“The president believes that every child should learn in a safe and secure school environment,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson.

February 05, 2010

>Kudos to The New York Times' blog, The Learning Network, for posting a lesson plan today on discussing 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' the military policy toward LGBT people serving.

February 04, 2010

>GLSEN Public Policy Association Alison Gill takes a look at a positive development in the Department of Justice in terms of interpreting Title IX to include protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

After a decade of virtually no enforcement, the Department of Justice has once again taken an interest in issues of sex and gender discrimination in schools. The Department of Justice intervened in the case of Sullivan v. Mohawk Central School District et al., which was originally brought by the NY Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a 14-year-old gay boy named Jacob who attended the Mohawk Central School District in New York.

Jacob suffered a pattern of harassment and abuse by fellow students and even teachers, including verbal harassment, assault and physical harm, and destruction of his property. Although Jacob and his supportive family reported this abuse to his school principal and other school authorities promptly and regularly, no action was taken to protect Jacob. For a complete account of the harassment perpetuated on Jacob and the school administration’s refusal to act, you can read the affidavits of Jacob and his father.

The Department of Justice is pursuing this suit under Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not allow students “on the basis of sex, [to] be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). While this law explicitly covers sex discrimination, DOJ lawyers argue that the law also covers discrimination based on gender stereotypes — that is to say, boys who are beaten up for being effeminate. While some courts have ruled that Title IX covers gender expression and sexual orientation, the law is uncertain in this area. This case may help to establish this principle more generally.

Of course all children are entitled to a safe and nurturing space in which to learn. Unfortunately, the type of bullying and harassment from which Jacob suffered is all too common for LGBT students in schools around the country. GLSEN’s research shows that 60.8% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and only about a third of students who reported incidents of victimization to school staff said that the problem was addressed effectively.

While the Department of Justice intervention shows a renewed interest in protecting the rights of LGBT students, Jacob’s case again demonstrates the need for anti-bullying policies and legislation so that schools can take steps to prevent this sort of harassment in the first place.

February 01, 2010

>Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church really don't like LGBT people. This isn't news to anyone who's heard of his "church." It's also not news to the many high schools WBC has protested for having a Gay-Straight Alliance, a favorite target of WBC.

Wanting to make the most of their protesting trips around the country, WBC also will protest anything American because, if you don't stand with WBC, you're against WBC. Sometimes it's military funerals (don't try to find logic in it). Last week it was Twitter.

And where WBC goes, counter-protesters usually follow. Take last week's clever counter-protest outside Twitter.

We get asked every so often about how best to respond to WBC protests. Attention is what WBC wants, so local organizers should think twice about whether a counter-protest is the best course of action. The Anti-Defamation League says "resist directly engaging."

The antidote to hate speech is good speech. Spread positive messages of tolerance and respect throughout the community. Discuss openly how hateful speech can poison a community. Notably, we do not recommend holding counter-protests or educational events at the same location as, or close to, the protest.

GLSEN also worries about student safety. While WBC seems to have remained peaceful in their protests, counter-protesters sometimes get agitated. WBC feeds off such reaction and frankly would love nothing more than to have a reason to sue someone. It's how WBC funds a lot of its hatred.

Deciding to ignore is always difficult but probably the correct approach. What do you all think?

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