May 03, 2013

Peter DeWitt

Elementary School Principal Poestenkill, New York

Every year I am more and more convinced that we do not do enough to safeguard our LGBT student population. They are bullied and harassed more often than their peers and don't feel safe coming to school. As a school administrator I believe that parents send their kids to school so they can learn but they expect them to be safe. It is our job as school administrators and teachers to make sure that all students feel safe when they come to school. This year is very exciting in New York State because all school districts have to implement the Dignity for All Students Act (Dignity Act), which means that they have to make sure that they are offering safeguards and resources that will help create an inclusive environment. In my own district we have school board policies and student codes of conduct to help ensure that we are creating a safe environment for all students. Through our district curriculum teams, librarians offer LGBT sections in the high school library and K-12 teachers educate students about gender bias through the use of children’s literature and character education resources. In addition, we are using sources from GLSEN’s Ready, Set, Respect and our Dignity Act committee  will be implementing student surveys to see how well it is working. Peter DeWitt is a blogger at Education Week and author of “Dignity For All: Safeguarding LGBT Students.”

Resources to help you get back to school

Ready, Set, Respect! - a toolkit for elementary educators States with Safe Schools laws - check to see if your state has an enumerated anti-bullying policy, such as the Dignity for All Students Act in New York Model Laws & Policies - if your state doesn't have anti-bullying legislation, take a look at our model legislation and talk to your local lawmakers about adopting it What have YOU done to transform you school? What ideas or tips can you provide to other LGBT students overcoming challenges? Share your story with us so that we can share it with world. Together, we'll be inspired to make this school year even better than the last – for everyone.

May 03, 2013

Sixty seconds — that’s all it takes to help GLSEN secure much needed additional funds. Each year CREDO* Action asks customers to nominate nonprofits for membership in the company’s annual donations pool. Once selected, members vote to determine how donations are distributed. GLSEN is on the ballot again this year and we need your votes! The best part is — the more votes we receive, the more funding we can secure. Voting is a simple and effective way to support GLSEN! If you are already a CREDO member, all you have to do is click here and vote. If you're not a member please sign up for free CREDO Action Alerts and you will be able to vote immediately. Last year, thanks to the support of our friends, GLSEN was awarded more than $70,000 — an increase of about $10,000 from the previous year. This would not have happened without your votes. This year we're shooting to break the $100,000 mark; that would allow us to place more resources in schools and help create safe learning environments for even more students. Please help us win! LGBT and allied students are counting on your support —please vote now!

May 03, 2013

Troy is a high school student in Ocoee, Florida and shared with us how GLSEN programs and resources have impacted his life. Have GLSEN programs and resources helped you, your students, or your family? Share your GLSEN story with us. GLSEN gave me the opportunity to take action in a way never before available. I have always been a supporter of LGBT rights, or as I view it, simple human rights. Many friends of mine who were gay only came out when they knew that there were people like me and teachers who were available for support. I know that I have a friend and an ally today that I never would have even considered last school year. It was my English teacher who is an avid supporter of LGBT rights and projects it with a Safe Space sticker. I immediately knew that she was a person I could come to for anything. I come to her with my problems and to seek help for others and together we might have even saved a life. To ban those resources will not just take away the benefits, it will cause harm. The benefits are an opening of vision to other people's personalities and lifestyles, and the effects are saved lives and alleviated depression and stress for struggling teens. This will only makes the lives of these already struggling teens harder. I am sure also that these teens will hear of this ban of GLSEN  resources. This will makes them feel alienated--as if the people who are meant to be role models, the authority figures of their school system, do not approve of the way that they feel. So once again, Erie, IL Community School Board, I implore to you to reverse the ban of GLSEN resources in your school district because not only are you impeding a step forward, you are taking three steps back. You are not just taking away benefits but you are directly causing pain and suffering to the children in your district. Troy Class of 2012

Take Action to #ReverseTheBan in Erie, IL

The Erie Community Unit School District in Illinois banned the use of GLSEN resources and programs such as No Name-Calling Week and Ready, Set, Respect! in elementary schools. These programs and resources - endorsed by national leaders in elementary education including the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Elementary School Principals - had been successfully used in schools in Erie until this decision. And they continue to be used in thousands of schools across the country. We reached out to the School Board in hopes of opening a dialogue, and we asked the School Board to reconsider. Unfortunately, the school board won't budge. So now we need your help. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Sign the Petition

May 03, 2013

Earlier today Wilson Cruz, an actor and activist who recently joined our Board of Directors, wrote an email to GLSEN supporters. It was so touching that we want to share it here with you. As a teenager, growing up in the early 90s, homophobic language wasn’t something most schools dealt with, let alone educated teachers or students about. The needs of LGBT students were minimized at best and often times overlooked entirely. But thanks to the work of GLSEN, significant progress has been made. Schools are safer than ever before. But we are far from the finish line. In too many schools, anti-LGBT bullying is still the norm and many students have no place to turn for help. This is not okay. It has to change. We need a new normal! With this in mind, GLSEN has embarked on an ambitious campaign to put Safe Space Kits in schools throughout America. Our immediate goal is 1,000 kits by the end of the month before school recesses for the summer. With your help, GLSEN has already put kits in over 14,000 schools and completely covered 14 states. But we need to go further — every school in American has at least one LGBT (or questioning) student who needs our help — we need a kit in every school! I donated a kit today. Will you? Sincerely, Signature Wilson Cruz GLSEN Board of Directors PS: Earlier this week at the Respect Awards – NY, I had the pleasure of meeting GLSEN’s Educator of the Year, Janet Sammons, who told me a truly remarkable story. She had a student come see her two years after graduating. He told her how he struggled with his sexual orientation and while he wasn’t ready to come out in high school, the Safe Space poster that hangs in her classroom was a great comfort to him. That it was helpful to know someone who understood was there. This story reaffirms for me the necessity of having a kit in every school. Help us make this a reality today!

May 03, 2013

GLSEN's ninth annual Respect Awards — New York are now less than a week away. This event is an opportunity to honor extraordinary allies in our safe schools movement - as well as those who serve as strong role models for our nation's youth. In advance of this year's awards, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recorded a special message about the critical need to create safe schools for LGBT students, and of course about GLSEN's groundbreaking work in that area. Take a look.

If you would like to attend GLSEN's Respect Awards — New York, click here to buy your tickets. Tickets will be available through this Friday. If you are unable to attend the event, would you consider a donation of $350, or any amount, to support GLSEN's work to create safe schools? You can make a tax-deductible donation securely online.

May 03, 2013

This guest post by Emma Petersky looks at the Day of Silence and offers a challenge to organizers and participants alike.

Last week was the Day of Silence. A few words to those who participated: This day is supposed to be difficult. You should struggle. You should be frustrated. This day is about being audacious, defiant and most of all, empathetic. You are an important proponent of change and you matter. Anyone can participate in the Day of Silence, but the only person you can change is yourself. You have the power to be not just a better person, but an amazing human being.

Anyone can participate in the Day of Silence, but the only person you can change is yourself.

I have been organizing the Day of Silence since I was in the 7th grade. I started with a bundle of crumpled flyers underneath my arm, awkwardly written, that were painfully tossed into garbage cans when given out. Over the years, I have accumulated more wisdom and experienced more much more heartbreak in concurrence with this event. One cannot convince a student to stop being homophobic or transphobic overnight. We have been influenced by systems and institutions of oppression that teach us, from a young age, to celebrate that which is heteronormative and gender binary. As an activist, I cannot just scream the same, ineffective message to my peers that they have heard their entire lives; “Don’t be a bully”.

Instead, we must deconstruct our social norms of hate, ignorance and hostility towards queer youth. We must no longer demean, patronize or belittle the complexity of gender or sexual identity. This is not an easy task; it cannot be pre-packaged and sold. It cannot be taught in a classroom or preached from an intercom.

We as individuals must become both the educators and pupils, the sages and warriors, “to be the change that we want to see in the world”.

My generation is fueled by communication; however, pixels on a screen are not enough to make us change. We are influenced the most by our friends and by those we look up to, which often makes organizing the Day of Silence very difficult for those in schools with stringent cliques of oppressive motivation. To be a successful activist, you must boldly approach those who are different from you and reach out to students of all social groups. Diversity is the key to revolution. Not all of us can be brave. But we can hope. Hope cannot be bullied. Hope is a suit of armor that is embedded in our skin. It cannot be washed away by hate. Sometimes, we forget this as young people. So, as Harvey Milk said, “You gotta give them hope”. Our goal should not be to create safe space. It should be to create liberating space. And we shouldn’t have to settle for life to get better after High School. Emma Petersky is a student, activist, and educator living on the Eastside of Seattle, Washington. She is dual-enrolled as a Junior at Interlake Senior High School and as a Freshman Bellevue College. In her High School, she is the co-president of her school's Queer Straight Alliance. Outside of school, she is a facilitator of a queer youth discussion and support group called B-GLAD (Bi, Gay, Lesbian, Adolescent Drop-In). She is also a professional public speaker and peer educator to reteach gender and sexuality through the organizations OUTSpoken Speakers Bureau and Youth Eastside Services. She considers her most important work to be her position on the Board of Directors of the non-profit ThreeWings. In the future, she would like to either a social worker, a K-12 teacher, or a writer.

May 03, 2013

Today marks the 17th annual Day of Silence. We decided to take a look back at this event with such a rich history of student organizing, advocacy, and activism. Take a look at this video retrospective of Day of Silence then and now. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"46","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"254","width":"500","style":""}}]] Have you participated in Day of Silence in years past? Share some of your memories in the comments below!

May 03, 2013

Goooood morning! The Day of Silence is finally here and we're up bright and early with you to make this year a success! This year, students in every state, the District of Columbia, and nearly 60 countries are participating in events at their school for the Day of Silence! Join us in the action! We invite you to follow our blog – blog.glsen.org – as we post student stories and messages from supporters throughout the day. Don't forget to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DayOfSilence and following @glsen! If you encounter any resistance to your participation in Day of Silence, go to http://dayofsilence.org/legalhelp/ to report it. If you're unsure about whether or not you'll participate in Day of Silence today, we invite you to participate in whatever way feels right for you: not talking at all, remaining silent for a portion of a day, or using your voice to raise awareness of the bullying & harassment LGBT students face. If you haven't already, please take a moment to register your participation so we can count you in our numbers! Let's make this year the biggest year yet! Together, we’ll keep working until that’s a reality!

May 03, 2013

Jeremy B is a GLSEN Student Ambassador from North Dakota who participated in our Safe School's Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC just a few weeks ago. He's also helping to organize Day of Silence activities at his high school and made this short video to "tell" you about it. Take a look! [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"46","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"339","width":"500","style":""}}]] PS Are you participating in Day of Silence this year? Make sure to register your participation... we want to connect with all of you fabulous  organizers!

April 03, 2012

Last week wrapped up GLSEN’s Annual Safe Schools Advocacy Summit (SSAS).  On Saturday March 24th, a group of 40 GLSEN students, educators and staff traveled to Washington D.C. — while there, they participated in a variety of leadership workshops, teambuilding exercises and met with officials from more than 100 Congressional offices representing 32 states.

Jeremy Brown, a high school freshman from Binford, North Dakota who was among the students at SSAS eloquently describes his experience in this special message to GLSEN supporters.

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We compiled some photos from the event over here. SSAS is possible each year because of the generous support--in all sizes--of supporters like you. Will you make a donation to GLSEN to help support our work?

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