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!

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!

November 09, 2010

>This morning I heard about another horrific loss: Brandon Bitner of Mount Pleasant Mills, Pa., took his own life last Friday after enduring relentless bullying at school. He was only 14 years old. My heart goes out to his family for their unimaginable loss.

Our nation has learned more about suicide in the past two months than we could ever have wanted to know. And the country's attention has turned to the national public health crisis of bullying in our schools, and the daily torment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. Suicide is tragically complicated—the result of a range of factors and stresses in a young person's life—and not every target of bullies is driven to ultimate despair. But we must harness the current public attention on the issue to make sure schools are safe and affirming places for all students, for students like Brandon.

Adult prejudices and preconceptions about LGBT people currently stand in the way of effective action. Anti-LGBT bias and bullying is NOT an issue with two sides—it is a horrible intrusion of societal bias into the lives of children. It teaches horrendous lessons to all involved—target, bully and bystander—and takes a toll on young lives, even among those that survive it.

Enough is enough. All that remains is to act. No more debate. There are steps to be taken that we know will make a positive difference in the lives of young people RIGHT NOW.

Take action

• Call on Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act: http://capwiz.com/glsen/callalert/index.tt?alertid=18531501

• Call on President Obama to champion these bills and on the Department of Education to do all in their power to implement the bills’ principles: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Help make schools safe for LGBT students

• Teachers and school staff can make a difference— visible adult support can go a long way in decreasing the feelings of isolation that can lead to despair. Check out GLSEN’s tools and tips for educators.

• Any of us can let the young people in our lives know that we love them no matter what. Join GLSEN’s Safe Space Campaign to ensure that LGBT students can identify at least one supportive adult in their school. Click here to watch campaign PSAs.

• Have you or someone you know experienced LGBT-based bullying, harassment, or discrimination in school? Find out how LGBT students can claim their rights.

Eliza Byard
GLSEN Executive Director

October 22, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. We received this story of all-ages, school-wide Ally Week action from the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, an independent school in New York City, NY.

If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at info@allyweek.org.

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LREI Students Take Action During Ally Week

Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School is an independent school in the West Village section of NYC. It was founded in the late 1920‘s by Elisabeth Irwin. She was committed to encouraging students to take action within their communities and they have been doing so for decades.

When teachers from the Four Year Old class through the High School spoke to students about Ally Week, many students were ready to take matters into their own hands. Students were encouraging their parents to grab an Ally Sticker on their way to work.

First Graders were generating a game plan for what to say when the time came for them to stand up for others. Leading up to Ally Week, our first graders talked about what it means to be an Ally, framing the conversation around what it means to be a friend. Some children push and tease and bully, our teachers explained, and sometimes they hurt other kids by ignoring them. Our teachers stressed the fact that kids can make a difference in situations like these. Being an Ally means speaking up!

The children brainstormed ways to stand up for their friends, then created speech bubbles. Specifically, these are scripts of what to say on the playground. The first graders also role played about what they learned and made cut-paper collages in art class.

An 8th grade student informed her 5th through 8th grade peers at their weekly Middle School Meeting that Facebook friends were encouraging people to wear purple on October 20. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s what this youth wanted to promote at our school, spirit for all. Upon hearing this, another middle schooler realized that some students and faculty who may want to participate may not actually own an item of purple clothing. She was inspired to make purple ribbon pins which she then distributed on Wednesday, October 20.

Third Graders, while on a farm trip for the week, learned about the different colors on the LGBT flag and made purple wrist bands with construction paper to wear on October 20. While looking around the Farm for tape, one student said, “Why don’t we use the Ally Stickers instead of tape,” and the idea spread.

Our goal is simple, start the year reminding students, families and faculty of the importance of being an Ally. Start when they are young and remind them every year. The rest of the year, practice, practice, practice. One day, when they hear LGBT bullying or slurs, when someone they know (or don’t know) is being teased for who they are, we want our students to know what to do. For LREI students, taking action is a part of their learning. It’s a part of their life.

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Click here for information on how educators can support Ally Week.

October 21, 2010

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President Barack Obama has just issued a video message speaking directly to young people, offering reassurance and hope to those suffering because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or simply because of being different. The President’s empathy and concern, so clearly and directly expressed, is an historic contribution to the outpouring of support for LGBT youth we have seen over the past few weeks.

We thank President Obama for this critical message. LGBT youth everywhere must hear his words loud and clear: “There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are.” We also appreciate the steps that the Administration has taken to address the needs of LGBT young people and reduce bullying and harassment through work done in various federal agencies, including the CDC and the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services.

Now our attention will turn to those additional concrete ways in which the President himself has the power to make things better, for today and for the future. Sustained federal leadership on these issues is absolutely essential to reassert the fundamental culture of respect that must prevail in our schools. We need the President’s clear endorsement of the vital principles embodied in the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. GLSEN will continue to work closely with the Administration to achieve this goal and to forge further progress at the agency level.

As the current crisis tragically illustrates, far too many school districts have not taken the actions needed to protect all students. And the tenor of public debate in this country stands in the way of effective local action and finding common ground. At times like these, on the difficult issues that really matter, Presidential leadership is paramount.

The President himself says in his message that, on an individual level, young people will find that their “differences are a source of pride and a source of strength,” and that, as a society, “the freedom to not fit in… to be true to ourselves, that’s the freedom that enriches all of us, that’s what America is all about.” These are exactly the ideals that are currently under siege. Whether it is from the schoolyard bully singling out a vulnerable classmate, or from a major-party candidate spewing anti-LGBT vitriol, the young people whom the President seeks to reach face a barrage of negative messages that can drive them to alienation and despair. They need his words, delivered now in this message, and they also need his actions.

Eliza Byard

GLSEN Executive Director

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Please take a moment to thank President Obama for recognizing the challenges that LGBT youth face. Below is a link to the White House web site and a sample message you can send to the President—feel free to incorporate a personal message.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Sample Message


Subject: I appreciate your support of LGBT youth

Message:

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your recent message to America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Through the power of your voice you are giving hope to many youth who may experience bullying, harassment and discrimination in their schools, homes or communities. I appreciate your strong support for LGBT youth and encourage you to continue to do as much as you can to help improve the lives of all youth.

Sincerely,

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