>CALLING ALL GENDER NONCONFORMING YOUTH AND THEIR FAMILIES!
Our friends at Gender Spectrum have an upcoming event we think you should know about. This year's Gender Spectrum Family Conference for transgender and gender nonconforming children and teens, will be held in Berkeley, California, from July 29th - August 1st. The conference brings together youth, families and professionals for a weekend of support, learning and celebration of transgender and gender creative young people. There will be more than 30 workshops for adults, along with a variety of programming for different youth age groups, ranging from "Kids Camp" for the younger children, to the "Tween" program for kids ages 9 - 12 and the teen programs. To find out more information about the conference or to register, visit these sites: The 2011 Family Conference or The 2011 Professionals' Workshop.
>This week marks the kick-off of the 23rd Annual NYC LGBT Film Festival, NewFest. GLSEN is proud to announce its involvement in this year's festival by co-sponsoring the screening of the film "I'm From Driftwood." This documentary shows New York's Nathan Manske as he crosses the country in search of what the 21st century queer experience truly is. He hears the diverse stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and ally individuals along his journey.
"I'm From Driftwood" will be screened on Friday, July 22nd, at 3 PM at the Cinema Village Theater. To purchase tickets for this film, or any of the other films being screened at NewFest, visit their website at http://newfest.org/wordpress/. A limited number of FREE youth (ages 25 and under) tickets for this screening are also available. They can be reserved in advance at the theater, or at the LGBT Community Center Box Office, by July 21st.
>On Wednesday, June 29th, five GLSEN student advocates attended the second annual LGBT Pride Reception at the White House. These Jump-Start Coordinators, coming from various areas of the country, got the chance to share their stories of anti-LGBT bullying with top government officials, including the President Obama and Vice President Biden. While there, students had the chance to advocate for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act, two bills that are currently in Congress. If passed, these acts would be a substantial step in ensuring safe schools for all students.
Dontaee Williamson, a student leader from Rochester, New York, spoke with President Obama and reflected on the momentous experience.
"To be invited was amazing. Meeting Obama was a fairy tale because not many people get that opportunity. When I met him I said 'thank you for supporting LGBT issues and safe schools for all' and how important it is for him to keep making good movements. He said 'That's my job. I'll be working on it more.’ For him to say that, it’s not something he’s brushing off. In his speech, the president said that every school needs to be a safe place for teachers and students. He said that if students don’t feel safe at school, how can we expect them to feel safe anywhere?"
Jump-Start Coordinator Ashley N. Davalos is from southern California and has been volunteering and leading workshops regarding different LGBT issues for her chapter of GLSEN in San Diego for the past four years.
"The reception was wonderful, and full of positive energy. While speaking with people [at the reception], many seemed delighted that GLSEN had a few students attend. It was very inspiring to hear what people had done and what their new projects were."
Layne Gianakos has been involved in LGBT activism with GLSEN Connecticut since his freshman year at high school and shared this about his White House visit.
"Going to the White House, in and of itself, was breathtaking but going as an invited guest was unthinkable. I was quite literally in awe the entire time between seeing Abraham Lincoln's actual glassware and the famous historical paintings of our founding fathers that I have seen in every text book since fifth grade. President Obama delivered a wonderful speech. It was personable, down to earth, and didn't include much of the frivolous fluff so popular among politicians.
He even told the crowd at one point that he knows some in the room have been frustrated with him and assures us that he is not going to pretend that he has the right or authority to tell the LGBTQ community to be patient, just as no one could tell to Black Americans half a century ago. His statements were rooted in fact with regard to the progress that has been made and it was clear that he was making the effort to include LGBTQ Americans in a way never done before by the presidency.
After his speech, I was able to shake the President's hand and had an opportunity to talk to both Vice-President Joe Biden, and the second lady Dr. Jill Biden. I am so grateful to have been included in the political process in a way that most Americans will never know. Attending this reception was, legitimately, a once in a lifetime experience. "
Layne's mother, Maura Gianakos, attended the Pride event and is hopeful of the future for his son.
"As a parent of a transgender teen, the President's sincere optimism and genuine support touched me deeply and makes me hopeful for continued progress and change - a time when students, gay or transgender are treated equally, when they no longer are bullied or harassed for who they are, an America that has mutual respect for all."
As president of her high school's Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance and a member of the Southern Maine Chapter of GLSEN, Kaleigh Colson was moved to be an invited guest to the Pride reception.
"My experience was magical. Listening to Obama's speech brought tears of hope and joy to my eyes, and left me feeling even more motivated to make a difference and to bring an end to society's anti-LGBT behavior than ever before. Overall, it was just a beautiful experience and I feel blessed to have been a part of it."
GLSEN would like to once again thank the Obama administration for inviting GLSEN constituents to share their personal experiences with anti-LGBT bias and bullying, and including GLSEN in the discussion of bullying prevention and other safe schools initiatives.
>This past Sunday, GLSEN returned to New York City Pride marching in the official 2011 NYC Pride Parade. Our group of 125 GLSEN staff, chapter members, volunteers, students, educators, and supporters met up at 11 a.m., and we couldn't have asked for better weather. It was amazing to see so many supporters out for GLSEN.
Our contingent, armed with a bounty of GLSEN posters representing GLSEN's work and the 31 GLSEN chapters around the country, postcards, stickers and bracelets for the pride attendees, headed out onto "pride alley," otherwise known as 5th Avenue, with The Village as our destination. Thanks to Wells Fargo, we were positioned close to the beginning of the parade and walked behind the famous Wells Fargo stagecoach, where GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard, her daughter, Wilson Cruz, and Joel Burns experienced the march.
GLSEN’s Community Initiatives Director, Martha Langmuir, recounts an incidence of unforeseeable generosity as witnessed by members of our GLSEN Connecticut Chapter.
A large group of over 20 youth and adults came down from Connecticut to march with us in Pride and before heading back to the train they stopped for lunch. While they were sorting out who owed what on the bill, the waitress came and grabbed the bill and ran off with it. Turned out that a couple in the restaurant loves the work GLSEN does and were thrilled to see that this large a group of students had come in as part of GLSEN’s contingent.
"To me, this is emblematic of the reach of GLSEN’s work on a daily basis – our impact is far greater than we are able to see on most days.”
Just two days before the march the New York State Senate passed the marriage equality bill and in turn, the crowd was exceptionally enthusiastic as signs thanking Governor Cuomo for his signing of the bill littered the parade route. It was thrilling to march with this group, united in promoting safe schools for all students, as thousands of people on the sidelines passionately cheered us on in support.
>Since June is LGBT Pride Month, SnagFilms has devoted a page to GLSEN and is donating proceeds to GLSEN for everyone who visits their website. Want a simple and effortless way to donate $1 to GLSEN? Just visit this link and "Like" or "tweet" the film "Fagbug" on the GLSEN page. It's that simple! For the rest of the month you can visit GLSEN's page and watch documentaries like "Fagbug," "Caught in the Crossfire" and "Equality U" for free!
Here is a brief synopsis of each film.
"Fagbug" follows grad student, Erin Davies, as she takes a road-trip across the United States in her VW Beetle that was vandalized with homophobic slurs. On her voyage, she evokes many reactions and opens up dialogue about gay rights.
"Caught in the Crossfire" profiles children and teens whose parents are gay. They talk about their opinions and share their stories about having gay parents.
"Equality U" documents a group of college-aged activists on their "Soulforce Equality Ride" around to different Christian universities and colleges known for having strict anti-gay rules, including being thrown-out of school. The group faces some tough restrictions from many schools on their journey, but are also able to ignite discussions.
All three of the films show just how powerful starting dialogue about LGBT issues can be. Be sure to check out GLSEN's page on Snag Films and enjoy these documentaries until the end of June. And don't forget to click "Like" and tweet about it while you're watching to donate $1 to GLSEN!
According to research findings in a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, and drugs), sexual risk behaviors that lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Furthermore, the study found that compared to their heterosexual peers, LGB students are disproportionately at risk for victimization by others, such as being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, findings that corroborate GLSEN’s own research on the general secondary school population in the report From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America. The release of this report marks the momentous first instance of a federal research report examining the experiences of LGB youth.
The study examined data from the 2001-2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a large-scale federal survey of adolescent risk behaviors. The YRBS is managed by the CDC and has been conducted biennially at the state and local levels for over two decades. It serves to examine risk behaviors that undermine the well-being of youth in the U.S. States and localities decide what questions to ask in a YRBS. The CDC study analyzed YRBS data from public school students in grades 9-12 in 13 of the states or localities that asked questions related to sexual identity, i.e., either a question specifically about sexual orientation or a question relating information about same-sex sexual behavior. Above and beyond the risk factors mentioned above, the study also examined a wide range of other health risks in numerous categories, including behaviors that can result in unintended injuries (e.g., not wearing a seat belt), physical activity behavior (e.g., participation in a sports team), and weight control behaviors (e.g., taking diet pills). Research findings from the study show that LGB youth had higher rates of health risk behaviors in a majority of the examined categories.
When taking into account the risk disparities between LGB and non-LGB youth, it is vital to consider the contextual factors that may explain such disparities. Although the CDC report does not examine the possible causes of these disparities, results from GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey (NSCS), show that the high prevalence of victimization experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students is related to students missing school and experiencing increased levels of depression and anxiety.
The CDC report highlights the importance of the school context for improving risk factors for LGB students:
The policies and practices designed to reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors are more likely to have an impact if they consider the context in which risk behaviors occur. For sexual minority students, this means addressing the challenges they face at school.
To support this claim, the authors cite GLSEN’s 2009 NSCS report.
The report only further underscores the urgent need for LGBT-inclusive in-school resources and supports and recommends:
Effective state and local public health and school health policies and practices should be developed to help reduce the prevalence of health-risk behaviors and improve health outcomes among sexual minority youths.
The report specifically suggests that GSAs, professional development for school staff and state and local policies addressing sexual minority youth are important interventions for improving the school experiences of this population, thereby providing support for GLSEN’s longtime claims that these interventions, along with implementing a curriculum that includes positive representations of LGBT people, history and events, are key for creating supportive, safe, and affirming school environments where all students can succeed.
Beyond highlighting the dire need to address health disparities among LGB youth and outlining specific interventions, this report also recommends that more research on these issues is needed. Specifically:
…[M]ore state and local surveys designed to monitor health-risk behaviors and selected health outcomes among population-based samples of students in grades 9–12 should include questions on sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.
Of particular importance, the study does not include information about the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming students. GLSEN’s NSCS remains one of the few studies to examine the school experiences of LGB students nationally, and is the only national study to examine transgender student experiences. GLSEN Research maintains that all large-scale population-based studies, such as the YRBS, should include questions about youth’s sexual orientation and gender identity. We applaud the CDC for their attention to the health disparities of the LGB population and recommend that sexual orientation and gender identity (inclusive of transgender identities) be included on all future surveys.
>Meghann G. participated in the National Day of Silence on Friday, April 15, and throughout the day was teased by her peers who made gay jokes at her. Meghann retreated to the counselors’ office and began to write. Below is an excerpt of what she wrote on that day, cross posted with permission from her blog, Dancing in God’s Wonderland.
How do you tell someone how you feel without speaking and without writing an essay? How do you defend yourself without words?
The meaning of Day of Silence is so much more powerful when experiencing it, hearing about it doesn't compare. The feeling of isolation puts you in a daze, where you forget about the "importance" of every day conversations. The lack of talking even dries out your throat and when you do speak again your voice cracks on the choked out words.
Day of Silence isn't just a protest against bullying or something to bring attention to others, but it's to bring a more intense, tangible, awareness to the participants. I tell people it's not as hard as it sounds, just to get them to do it, but in all reality it is hard and stressful and saddening to an extent; however it is also enlightening and eye-opening and incredibly, absolutely powerful. Anyone who has participated the whole day would know. It's inspirational.
As human beings we all want to fit in one way or another. No one wants to be isolated or alone or abandoned—no one. So Lord, help me be strong as I venture back into this battle field, because this does not end on the Day of Silence. This is reality for so many people.
Last Friday, many of you participated in the National Day of Silence. Thanks to all of your amazing work we are able to say that this was the largest Day of Silence in history! Your silence brought awareness to the silencing effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Congrats!
But don't stop there. Day of Silence is just the beginning! Read below for some things you can do to keep the movement going. And make sure to read to the end where we announce the date for the Day of Silence in 2012.
Register and Be Counted!
It's not too late to register your participation in the Day of Silence! We want to get an accurate understanding or how many people took part. CLICK HERE to let us know that you took a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment!
Tell us your story
We love to hear how you celebrated the Day of Silence. How many people participated? Were your teachers supportive? What did you do to Break the Silence? Let us know! Click here to fill out the feedback form on studentorganizing.org.
Silence in the Classroom
We are sorry to hear that several students faced negative consequences because of their participation in the Day of Silence at school. As a reminder, while students have the right to not speak between classes and before/after school, students DO NOT have the right to remain silent during instructional time. Although it is upsetting if you were punished because you remained silent during class, it is not against the law. Some teachers grant permission for students to uphold their vow of silence in class, but teachers are not required to do so. We always recommend discussing your participation with your teacher before the Day of Silence. Click here to see more about your legal rights during the Day of Silence.
If you still feel your rights were denied during the Day of Silence, please visit our Report It form to let us know. A representative from Lambda Legal may be in contact to assist.
We'll email you with announcements about upcoming Days of Action, and ways that you can keep your organizing going all year long! Join the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page for announcements all year long and be sure to read the emails from email@example.com and posts from @DayofSilence on Twitter!
Drum roll, please!
And the date for the next Day of Silence will be...Friday, April 20, 2012! Mark your calendars now and start brainstorming for ideas for next year's event! You can RSVP now at the official Day of Silence 2012 Facebook Event. And don't forget Ally Week (Oct 17-21) to jump start your organizing for the school year!
Thank you again for your participation in the Day of Silence. Don't let your work stop now. Through your continued organizing, we hope you are leading conversations and building action to change the climate of your schools to be a place where all students - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression - can learn in a safe and supportive environment.
Congratulations on your success!
Congratulations to all of you on a hugely successful Day of Silence! Hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world participated in the Day to bring awareness to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
By now you've likely Broken the Silence, and begun to speak about your participation in the Day, your experiences with anti-LGBT bullying and the importance of making all schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Keep the conversation going! The Day of Silence is the first step towards a deeper dialogue amongst members of your community about how to improve your school's climate for LGBT and all students.
While we know that this year's Day of Silence was the largest ever, we want to be able to show it! Please make sure you registered your participation by clicking on THIS LINK. By registering we can help show others the impact of this action.
We'd love to hear your stories about your participation--the ups , the downs, and everything in between. What did you do to end the silence? Tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel you were denied your right to participate in the Day of Silence or if you faced strong opposition from your school, please CLICK HERE to let us know. A representative from Lambda Legal may be in contact with you to assist.
Stay tuned to the Day of Silence Blog, the Day of Silence Facebook Page and the @DayofSilence on Twitter for ideas on how to take the next step to make your school a more respectful and supportive place for all students.
Thank you all for your hard work, and congratulations on taking a stand!