February 10, 2012

Strength In Numbers

“As a student whose life was saved by GLSEN's work, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with us.”

Numbers are often so important in our work. Numbers from our research, at the heart of everything we do at GLSEN, document the collective experience of LGBT youth, inform our programs and demonstrate how our work is making a real difference in thousands of school districts every day. Numbers also help us track our progress towards our yearly goals, and give us a sense of how engaged people are in our work.

So I of course was overjoyed when I saw that 5,000 people signed our thank you message to Grazie Media last week, when Grazie Media did not bow to anti-LGBT pressure to pull our "Think B4 You Speak" PSAs from its JumboTron outside the Super Bowl, and made sure the message of respect was heard at the epicenter of America’s largest annual media event.

I’m thrilled that more than 70,000 people heard that message on-site at the Super Bowl, and millions more were part of the online dialogue sparked by Grazie Media’s decision – all of them hearing a message that could have a lasting impact in the lives of LGBT youth.

In return, we spoke as one in huge numbers to show an ally that they would find overwhelming support in doing the right thing.

But there’s a deeper story behind all those numbers, and it came through from the 166th person to sign our thank you message.

“As a student whose life was saved by GLSEN's work, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing with us.”

I am fortunate to be able to travel the country in my job and hear from youth and educators whose lives are in a better place because of something as simple as seeing a GLSEN Safe Space Sticker or joining a Gay-Straight Alliance or having a coach suggest their team take GLSEN’s Team Respect Challenge.

Knowing that they are not alone, that others stand with them and are willing to act to end the violence and discrimination they face, can literally change and save students’ lives. Research tells us that fact. Individual stories bring that reality home.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me, our staff, our chapters, our volunteer Board of Directors and all of the people connected to GLSEN’s work to hear from you about the impact of our work. And how much it means to us when we hear that you are ready to mobilize, to support our allies and to let every student in this country know that they are not alone!

Please always feel free to reach out to us on TwitterFacebook or at glsen@glsen.org and let us know how we’re doing and how we can help.

Eliza Byard

About Eliza Byard

Dr. Eliza Byard is the Executive Director of GLSEN - the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

Find Your Chapter