October 16, 2009

>A message for GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard:

GLSEN’s already historic PSA campaign will make history once again tonight. One of our groundbreaking commercials, featuring Hilary Duff, will air during the season premiere of Ugly Betty on ABC-TV.

This is an exciting and important showcase for GLSEN’s message. Millions will be watching tonight. I hope that you will make it a few more, by watching our ad tonight during Ugly Betty between 8:00-10:00 pm (Eastern/Pacific) or 7:00-9:00 (Central).

What is the ThinkB4YouSpeak Campaign? Last year, GLSEN partnered with the Ad Council to develop a powerful PSA campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in America’s schools.

The Ad Council is known for timely and effective public service messages like their famous Smokey the Bear campaign and the well-known “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” commercials. The goal of ThinkB4YouSpeak is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults – including school personnel and parents – whose support of this message is crucial its success.

Be Sure to Watch the ThinkB4YouSpeak PSA on Ugly Betty Tonight!

So, if you’re a fan of Ugly Betty, you probably know that the character “Justin,” Betty’s nephew, is exploring the challenges of being a teen. Now that he’s in high school, we’ll see how Justin copes with his emotions, fears and relationships, both at school and at home. Countless “Justins” from schools across the country will tune in to Ugly Betty tonight and know that you and I – and the entire GLSEN community – are on their side.

October 15, 2009

>Guest post from Bryan Pacheco, GLSEN's Public Ally in our Community Initiatives Department:

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month. The purpose of this month is to reflect and honor the contributions of the larger Hispanic community in the United States. GLBT History Month is also during October. This should get us thinking: how do Hispanic and Latino/a identities intersect with LGBT identities?

Hispanic and Latino/a LGBT people have made immense contributions to the LGBT movement. One individual who comes to mind is Sylvia Rivera, who was a Venezuelan and Puerto Rican trans woman who grew up homeless. Sylvia participated in what is often seen as the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement - the Stonewall Riots of 1969 - and among other things, dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of homeless youth in Hispanic and LGBT communities. Her identities and experiences became the framework for what she would devote her life to.

All of our identities are constantly intersecting, and can inspire our work and life focus, as it did for Sylvia. For instance, maybe you are a student and LGBT, and those identities, and the experiences that you have because of them, inspire you to lead a GSA in your school. You can't separate the two identities and nor should you.

We should celebrate the intersection of Hispanic Heritage Month and GLBT History month by seeing how our identities complement one another. Let’s not honor the events separately. Let’s honor them together and see how each can make the other more powerful.

October 12, 2009

>

Check out a few photos from the red carpet at Friday's fifth annual GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles:

Melissa Joan Hart and Kelly Osbourne swap dance partners, Kelly with Make Ballas and Mellisa with Louis van Amstel.

HBO executive Michael Lombardo (right), who accepted the Corporate Role Model Respect Award on HBO's behalf, with "True Blood" creater Alan Ball and stars Sam Trammell (left) and Michelle Forbes.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with the real stars of the GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles, Student Advocate of the Year Austin Laufersweiler, Lazaro Cardenas, Nik Castillo, Maru Gonzalez, Dianna Lopez, Dominique Walker and Sirdeaner Walker.

More photos to come ...

October 12, 2009

>Entertainment Tonight was one of 30 media outlets to cover the red carpet at the fifth annual GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles. Check out ET's report below with interviews from Melissa Joan Hart, Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Debbie Mazar and more:

September 22, 2009

>Michael Schwartz, Sen. Tom Coburn's chief of staff, got a lot of attention for controversial comments he made last week at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC.

Somewhat lost in the hubbub about the remarks was how Schwartz's set them up: by saying that it's a good thing for 10-year-old boys to speak badly about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct.

In one sense Schwartz is correct. Many students around that age do speak very badly about LGBT people. Children know how hurtful the names are to their peers. "Gay," "fag," "sissy" and "tomboy" are weapons of choice, and Smear the Queer is a favorite game on the playground.

But one has to wonder how anyone, especially when we're only a few months removed from two young boys taking their lives after experiencing such name-calling, would think it appropriate to encourage such behavior. It's irresponsible at the least and dangerous at the worst.

Shouldn't we instead be teaching our young people about respecting each other and, perhaps, loving your neighbor as yourself? If we're talking about values, isn't that one of the greatest value of all?

In the coming days, GLSEN will release a research brief that looks at the bullying and harassment middle school LGBT students experience in school. It's downright heartbreaking. But how do can we expect any better from our youth when our leaders still think talking badly about being gay is a "good instinct?"

September 21, 2009

>GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is pleased to announce that it has joined America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership alliance of more than 300 corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups that are dedicated to improving lives and changing outcomes for children.

GLSEN is the first organization focused on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues to join America’s Promise Alliance, founded in 1997 with General Colin Powell as its Chair, and led by Alma Powell, its current Chairperson.

“By safeguarding against bullying and harassment – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – GLSEN continues to be a leader in helping young people stay in school,” said Marguerite Kondracke, President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “Safe places and an effective education are among America’s Promise Alliance’s founding principles. We are thrilled to welcome GLSEN as an Alliance Partner, and applaud its efforts to provide a safe learning environment for all students.”

Read more here

August 28, 2009

>We have some exciting GLSEN news from the social media world. GLSEN has been nominated for a MySpace Impact Award, a monthly honor voted on by MySpace users. Out of a pool of nominations, MySpace selects three organizations or individuals “who are using their MySpace pages to make a difference” and asks users to decide which organization or individual will receive that month’s MySpace Impact Award and a $10,000 donation.

This month’s nominees are GLSEN, Solar Electric Light Fund and the Kanye West Foundation. Voting runs through Thursday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. Eastern. Help GLSEN get recognized for the amazing work we do. Please vote for GLSEN (you must have a MySpace account) and share this with your friends and networks.

http://www.myspace.com/impactawards

August 26, 2009

>GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is saddened by the news of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s passing. As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator Kennedy was a leader in the effort to enact an enumerated federal anti-bullying policy that would include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

If the Safe Schools Improvement Act, currently introduced in the House, becomes law, it would be a testament to Senator Kennedy’s insistence that all students must be protected in any federal anti-bullying policy.

"At a key moment for education reform, GLSEN Founder Kevin Jennings and I had the remarkable opportunity to have a private lunch with Senator Kennedy to discuss the need for action on safe schools issues," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “Senator Kennedy showed a genuine passion for making America’s schools safe for every student, and as the Senate geared up for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind soon thereafter, he turned that passion into concrete commitment. We were so grateful for his leadership in including crucial safe schools language in all of his drafts of the bill."

"While Senator Kennedy left his mark on so many aspects of recent American history, his stewardship of education reform highlighted the importance of federal action to promote respect for all. He was a friend to GLSEN as well as students and educators in Massachusetts and across the country."

August 06, 2009

>Sirdeaner Walker, who testified last month on Capitol Hill in favor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, appeared on NPR's Here and Now yesterday to talk about a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics that encourages pediatricians to play a more active role in bullying prevention.

Walker's 11-year-old son, Carl Walker-Hoover, died by suicide in April after enduring constant bullying at school, including being called "gay" and "fag" by his peers despite the fact that Carl did not identify as gay. Carl would have turned 12 on the National Day of Silence on April 17 when hundreds of thousands of students took a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bullying.

Listen to the interview here. Learn more about the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which will establish a federal anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories most often targeted for bullying, here.

The AAP's new policy statement debunks the ridiculous claim made by opponents of anti-bullying policies that kids will be kids and bullying is somehow beneficial for students like Carl to experience.

It is clear that in this country, it must first be accepted that bullying behaviors cannot be considered a normative rite of passage and that they can be precursors for more serious downstream consequences. In terms of primary prevention, early parenting behaviors such as cognitive stimulation and emotional support have been shown to confer resilience against the future development of bullying behaviors in elementary-aged schoolchildren. Promotion and reinforcement of such parenting skills plus recognition, screening, and appropriate referral as secondary prevention strategies are essential ways that pediatricians can collectively contribute to this aspect of youth violence prevention.

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