July 29, 2013

Examining Oppression in our Schools and Communities

This is the first in a series of GLSEN blog posts examining the impact of oppression in our schools and communities.


“We cannot begin to imagine the
continued pain and suffering endured
by Trayvon Martin’s family and friends.
We stand in solidarity with them as
they continue to fight for justice,
civil rights and closure. And we thank
everyone who has pushed and will
continue to push for justice.”

-From the Open Letter

This week, a coalition of national LGBT organizations (including GLSEN) issued An Open Letter: Trayvon Deserves Justice. It is a statement of solidarity with Trayvon Martin’s family and friends and a strengthened “commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities.”

These ideals, solidarity and strengthened commitment, guide our actions as we look at the ways racism and other forms of oppression manifest in schools, where:

One of the many ways that oppression continues to thrive is through silence; those impacted are not allowed to have a voice and those benefitting from oppression fail to use theirs.

GLSEN recognizes that among the concrete actions that we can take as an organization (our work with students, educators, policy makers and community members), we are in a unique position to be able to foster dialogue, as well. 

Over the next few weeks on the GLSEN blog you will hear from LGBT students across the country. They will share their reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal, their experiences of homophobia, transphobia, racism, classism and other forms of oppression in their lives, their fear, anger and optimism, and their hopes for the future.

One such student, Cesar writes, “The recent tragedy of Trayvon Martin has struck the younger generation and has created a revolution in discussion.”

We encourage all of you, youth and adults, to keep reading, keep learning and engage those around you in these conversations. There is power in naming oppression, power in recognizing our own place in those dynamics and power in shining light on a topic that is often seen as “too uncomfortable” to discuss.

We all have a part to play and must work in solidarity and strengthened commitment to create change!

Together, we can make our schools and communities safer, healthier and more affirming for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race/ethnicity, immigration status, socioeconomic status, religion and the myriad other identities that make us who we are.

Stay Tuned!

Jenny Betz

About Jenny Betz

Jenny Betz is the Director of Education & Youth Programs at GLSEN.

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