November 02, 2009

>A note from GLSEN Public Policy Director Shawn Gaylord on the passage of an anti-bullying policy in Birmingham schools that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity/expression:

I was so excited to see this news from Alabama. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition gathering and was so aware of the difficulty safe schools organizers face working in some of the more conservative areas of the country. Seeing progress like this in Alabama, as well as last year’s statewide gay and transgender-inclusive anti-bullying law in North Carolina, proves that there are opportunities for safe schools victories everywhere, and I am grateful for the work of Howard, the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and everyone working to make this a reality.

As we know, enumerated anti-bullying policies are essential to creating a truly safe environment for LGBT youth and having a generic policy is about the same as having no policy at all. Congratulations to Howard for his work to make schools safer for all youth in Birmingham.

October 31, 2009

>Pumpkin art by Community Initatives Associate Kiwi Grady:

October 30, 2009

>Regarding Elizabeth's post, I just want to point out that Corruna School Board Treasurer James Lockwood does not speak for all tall, white men.

October 28, 2009

>Good news from MI tonight via Todd Heywood of the Michigan Messenger.

A local Shiawassee County school board plans to hold a meeting as soon as Monday to rescind a decision it made Oct. 23 to order the removal of an extracurricular club display honoring gay history month.

“We have violated the First Amendment rights of the students and the Diversity Club,” Maureen Stanley, president of the Corunna Board of Education, said. “We limited their expression.”

Kudos to the ACLU for informing the school board it was violating the law (several, actually).
Todd spoke to GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard on the phone on Tuesday regarding the situation and again today through email.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the national group Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network, said Tuesday she was very worried about the message the board move sent to students, even after the announcement the decision would be rescinded.

In an e-mail Wednesday, Byard wrote: “We thank the school board for recognizing the damage its decision has done to creating an educational environment where difference is valued and respected.”

At the same time, Byard said, she hoped the board would consider the importance of encouraging diversity in educational settings, saying, “While the clear violations of the law stopped them short, the board members should also be taken aback by the educational impoverishment of a curriculum that erases facets of our common history and the reality of life in a diverse society.”

Anti-LGBT bullying is a pervasive problem in Michigan schools, according to a GLSEN research brief based on data from Michigan students who took the 2007 National School Climate Survey. The brief found that 87% of Michigan LGBT students experienced harassment in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and nearly two-thirds (66%) of those students never reported the harassment to school staff.
October 28, 2009

>GLSEN applauds President Obama and Congress on this historic day for recognizing the critical need to ensure that investigations of biased-motivated violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and disability, among the most frequent forms of hate crimes, receive the same federal support as other forms of biased-motivated violence. According to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey, 22.1% of LGBT students were physically assaulted in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 14.2% because of their gender expression. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act sends a strong message that anti-LGBT violence will not be tolerated in our society and our schools.

October 27, 2009

>Autumn Sandeen has a great blog post at Pam's House Blend about an article in the November issue of Seventeen Magazine, "My Boyfriend Turned Out to be a Girl."

While transphobia obviously is nothing new in the media, it is rather shocking to see such a blantant example in the decision to publish this article without any perspective of what it is like to be a transgender youth. As Autumn points out, via GLSEN's research report on the experiences of trangender students in school, Harsh Realities:

  • Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).
  • Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%).
  • More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender
    expression (53%).
  • More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%).
  • Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.

Seventeen has previously written positively about the Day of Silence and written an article about a former GLSEN national student leader, but after this article it's hard to defend the publication's record on LGBT youth unless they try to make things right and publish a story about the issues and harassment facing transgender youth (with a positive portrayal of a trans youth, of course).

Short of that, even an apology isn't good enough.

A Facebook group has started to encourage a letter writing campaing. Go join and tell your friends.

Queerty also has a good blog post.

October 27, 2009

>Autumn Sandeen has a great blog post at Pam's House Blend about an article in the November issue of Seventeen Magazine, "My Boyfriend Turned Out to be a Girl."

While transphobia obviously is nothing new in the media, it is rather shocking to see such a blantant example in the decision to publish this article without any perspective of what it is like to be a transgender youth. As Autumn points out, via GLSEN's research report on the experiences of trangender students in school, Harsh Realities:

  • Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).
  • Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%).
  • More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender
    expression (53%).
  • More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%).
  • Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.

Seventeen has previously written positively about the Day of Silence and written an article about a former GLSEN national student leader, but after this article it's hard to defend the publication's record on LGBT youth unless they try to make things right and publish a story about the issues and harassment facing transgender youth (with a positive portrayal of a trans youth, of course).

Short of that, even an apology isn't good enough.

A Facebook group has started to encourage a letter writing campaing. Go join and tell your friends.

Queerty also has a good blog post.

October 20, 2009

>We at GLSEN love to hear about the organizing you’re doing to make schools safer and to end anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Organizers use Ally Week to identify Allies against anti-LGBT language, bullying and harassment. Jenna, a high school senior and GSA President from Hastings, Minn., sent us an email telling us why Ally Week is so important to her. Even though she says there’s a lot of intolerance at her school, during Ally Week she’s able to find new Allies:

“I get so much support from others students, people I don’t even know. It’s amazing what you can do with just some t-shirts and posters. I’m sad that it’s my last year in high school, but maybe I can come back during Ally Week next year and help out.”

What are you doing for Ally Week? Send us an email at info@allyweek.org with your Ally Week stories and your story could be featured on this blog.

October 20, 2009

>UPDATE: Video doesn't seem to be working. Try this link:

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October 19, 2009

>http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/2479.html

From the GLSEN press release:

Thousands of students across the country this week are pledging to address anti-gay bullying as part of GLSEN’s fifth annual Ally Week, a week of activities designed to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment at school.

Ally Week, which was created by students as a way to encourage and support allies, is often organized by the more than 4,000 Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs registered with GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education network.

Also, here's a clip of GLSEN Student Ambassador Lazaro Cardenas at the GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles on Oct. 9 talking about why he's an ally.

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You can sign the official Ally Week pledge here to be an Ally against anti-LGBT bullying.

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