November 18, 2011
Connecting The Dots: GSAs & Keeping Students Safe
The 13th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is tomorrow, November 20, and is a day to memorialize those whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender fear, bigotry and hatred. Around the world communities plan vigils to remember those who have died in the previous year. As TDOR approaches, two of our Student Media Ambassadors reflect about how to make schools safe for students right now so that all students are safe from violence and bullying, regardless of gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.
Chase S. identifies as gender nonconforming and shares,
Supportive teachers have had an huge impact on helping me to feel safe in school. I frequently hear teachers speak out against homophobic language, and many school faculty/staff are starting to actively avoid the genderism that can negatively affect transgender/gender non-conforming students. Many teachers have openly supported the work of my GSA and have expressed positive interest in GLSEN and the work that we do. The affirming and supportive atmosphere created by my teachers has really helped me in feeling safe to express myself and my identity at school.
Loan T. also identifies as gender nonconforming and writes,
When I co-founded my school’s first gay-straight alliance with a close friend of mine, I felt a tremendous amount of relief weeks before we even had our first meeting. I had finally found a space that would take me as I am, regardless of who I am. A huge part of my social transition and taking control of my gender expression has been marked by the style of my hair. Though my hair in the past has elicited hurtful and harmful remarks from strangers and peers, never once have my GSA advisors and teacher allies discourage me or condone the intolerance of others. I know that a lot of that has been made possible by the countless efforts of my fellow GSA members and adult allies to circulate LGBT educational resources around every department in our school: raising awareness and calling for action one classroom at a time. Starting my sophomore year, our GSA began circulating two copies of GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit around the school; since then, more teachers have offered their alliance to our club, more students have attended our meetings, and our administration has become more willing to discuss the unique experiences that LGBT students face in school. While there are still the occasional rough patches for me, being able to witness the changes in my school and in my school’s dialogue around bullying, I feel much safer and much freer to express myself just knowing that issue of anti-LGBT bullying is being taken seriously.
To learn more about Transgender Day of Remembrance and how to be a part of it, visit our resource page
which has information about this year’s TDOR and also important information for making your school safe for trans* and gender nonconforming students.