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.
GLSEN Executive Director
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.
Subject: I appreciate your support of LGBT youth
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.