8 years ago when I was in the 6th grade I had a humanities teacher named Mr. Krause. For our summer reading assignment before middle school started, we had to read The Misfits about a group of middle school students who are picked on and want to do something about it. The kids were picked on and bullied for various things, including being gay, but they had a teacher who supported them and they had each other.
Unknowingly, this book would come to define my 6th grade year. The summer before entering the hallowed halls of Mott Hall II in New York City, I spent the summer at sleep away camp. It was there that I first came out as gay. I was 10 years old and knew nothing of how kids could be so hurtful.
Upon coming to middle school, I began to be bullied. I was teased by my classmates, called hurtful names, and left out of many activities. I barely had any friends, except a few kids, who like me were also teased. We ate in the gym because none of the kids would let us in the lunch tables. We also acted in the school play, and I did the talent show. I did it because I wanted to, and even though everyone laughed at me, I didn’t care and I did it anyway. But the bullying got worse, and even the friends I had weren’t making the difference. While serving as the secretary of the student government, a position I won by antagonizing the voters, I put up a sign asking people to form a club about how much they hate the school. I failed two subjects and was in danger of being held back in school.
My mother was worried about my emotional health, and she didn’t know what to do with me. Eventually, we both decided that I could not stay at that school anymore. Even though it pained me to leave behind the few friends I did have, I knew that it was the best for me. I ended up transferring to a Jewish day school the next year, and was able to function quite well there.
Mr. Krause was an amazing teacher though. He really cared about his students and tried to impart on them how much respect was apart of being a good student. When I left he expressed to my mother that he was distraught and wished he could have done more to help me. Those words I will never forget.
This week is the 10th anniversary of No Name Calling Week, inspired by The Misfits. It’s directed to teachers and students in elementary and middle schools across the country. My story proves that this event and sentiment can help teachers change lives at any age. We must support our educators in their journeys to make schools a safer and better place for all students. It is only in this way that they can continue to shape and change lives.
Emet Tauber is a former GLSEN student ambassador and sophomore at Arcadia University. He serves on GLSEN's National Advisory Council where he helps with programming for Transgender Student Rights. He aspires to get his masters in public policy and work in politics and advocacy as a career.
Eric S. is a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina where our executive director Eliza Byard recently delivered the final kit in our three-year campaign to send a Safe Space Kit to every school in the United States.
I was checking my Facebook feed earlier today and saw an announcement of the new GSA at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC. I graduated from East Meck in 1974, back in the days before the idea of a GSA was on anyone’s radar. For a gay or questioning kid then, there was just nowhere to go for information, companionship, or understanding, and certainly there were no adults with whom it was safe to have a conversation about gender identity or sexual orientation. Most of us just tried to keep a low profile, and hoped no one would notice how we were “different.”
It’s pretty amazing to be able to visualize the physical space of my high school of forty years ago, which was a huge jumble of fear, fun, fear, growth, fear, and challenges, as a space that actually reaches out its arms to embrace all of its students. In an unexpected way, even though I have grown up and found and married the man I love (thanks, Minnesota!) I feel as though the school is also reaching out to embrace me and the people like me who walked its halls through these many decades. Congratulations to all the young people who are using this new tool to claim their spot in the world, and thanks to all the advisers and allies who helped clear the path for them and for us.
To learn more about the Safe Space Kit or get one for yourself visit glsen.org/safespace
In the fall of 2010, GLSEN embarked on a monumental campaign to provide every middle and high school in the country – 63,000 schools — with a GLSEN Safe Space Kit by the end of 2013. The Kit, which includes Safe Space stickers and posters and a 42-page guide to being an ally to LGBT students, empowers teachers to make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth.
Earlier this month, the last batch of Safe Space Kits began arriving at the remaining few hundred schools, meaning every secondary school in the country now has access to a resource that helps teachers make classrooms and hallways safer for LGBT students.
GLSEN could not have reached every secondary school in the country without the support of hundreds of corporate and community partners, GLSEN’s 38 chapters and many of you – from donating Kits to voting for us in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge and helping us win $250,000 toward the campaign.
Here are a few of the people and partners who helped us reach this goal:
- Eddie, a high school student and GSA leader in Portland, Oregon, purchased 12 Safe Space Kits out of his own pocket and hand-delivered them to schools in his area.
- Wells Fargo made a historic financial and volunteer investment in the campaign, allowing GLSEN to take the initiative to scale and achieve our ambitious goal.
- Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, wrote to educators in the state: “Ask yourself what you can do and begin by identifying yourself, your classroom and your office as safe spaces for LGBT students. It can change a life – and in some cases, save one.”
- Our GLSEN Phoenix chapter hosted district-wide trainings to maximize knowledge and impact of the Kits.
All told in the past three years, we’ve distributed close to 100,000 Kits (schools need more than just one) and 1 million Safe Space stickers.
But the completion of the Safe Space Campaign is just the beginning. We are committed to making sure every LGBT student can identify not just one but many supportive educators, which our research shows leads to higher grade point averages, greater educational aspirations and less fear-based absenteeism. That is something we all can support.
Our executive director Eliza Byard sent this email out today and I wanted to share it with you all here!
I want to invite you to take part in a national call to action that is changing the calendar and making history.
Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today we are celebrating #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving – when charities, families, businesses, students, retailers and many more will come together to make a difference nationwide.
#GivingTuesday is a national day of giving to help start the holiday season. It is a moment to remember what this time of the year is all about – giving back.
I invite you to be part of the #GivingTuesday celebration and help GLSEN show the world what a difference we can make together with your gift of $75, $50 or $25.
And I hope you will also help spread the word about GLSEN and Giving Tuesday by sharing the message with others and letting them know why you support our continuing efforts to ensure every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
P.S. You can use “#GivingTuesday” in your social media posts today to share with the world why you support GLSEN to make a difference for schools across the country. Thank you!
¡Ayer comenzó el Mes de la Herencia Hispana!
Este mes es sumamente importante y emocionante para celebrar la herencia latina mientras reconocemos las muchas maneras en que la gente hispana del mundo ha añadido a la cultura colectiva de los Estados Unidos. A través de este mes pedimos que comiences una conversación con tus compañeros de clase sobre lo que significa llevar las dos identidades en la escuela. ¿Has aprendido acerca de nuestros héroes destacados en la escuela?
¡Utilizalos en tu proxima reunión para provocar discursos con tus compañeros de clase sobre los heroes de la comunidad y momentos importantes en la historia Hispana/LGBT!
Yesterday kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month!
This is an exciting time to celebrate Latino heritage as we recognize the many ways that people of Hispanic descent from all over the world have added to the collective culture of the United States. Take this next month to have thoughtful conversations with your classmates and GSA members about what it means to bring both these identities at school. Have you or your peers learned about any of the featured heroes in your class?
Use them at your next GSA meeting to spark dialogue among your peers about moments in history, and heroes of the community!
GLSEN's Executive Director Eliza Byard was invited to speak at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Here is the text of her speech.
“Let Freedom Ring” Commencement Speech & Call to Action
Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director
August 28, 12013
Fifty years ago, Bayard Rustin stood on this stage leading the vast crowd reciting the demands of the March on Washington.
A movement spoke through him, but the world would not embrace him because he was gay.
Today, LGBT voices are welcomed to this stage. And President Obama has awarded Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
But we have not yet seen Dr. King's "great vaults of opportunity" thrown open to everyone. We have so far to go before a truly great education is offered to every child.
GLSEN and our community are partners in this fight. We fight for millions of LGBT students and all those seen as "different." They deserve a welcoming audience for their dreams. They deserve to be embraced by their communities for who they are.
Yet every day these youth endure the silence imposed by violence and fear.
Some have been silenced forever, and we raise our voices in their memory:
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover.
Bayard Rustin was a Quaker. He attended Meeting each week, listening for the voice of the Divine that can speak through any one of us.
Across this nation, voices are ready to rise for opportunity and justice for every young person, regardless of who they are, what they look like or who they love.
Listen for those voices.
Lift them up so they can be heard.
When we do that, we all shall rise.
Photo by Rea Carey
We are humbled and honored to announce that GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard will deliver a speech on Wednesday as part of the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, the same location where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech 50 years ago.
Eliza, who is part of a speaking lineup that includes Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama, will be the only representative from an LGBT organization speaking at the Wednesday commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington.
GLSEN partner organizations working predominantly in the South nominated Eliza to speak at the event, and the King Center selected her for the honor.
GLSEN has a long history of working on all aspects of social justice related to the K-12 education system and is the leading organization working to address injustices and inequalities directed at LGBT students and educators.
Before officially joining GLSEN in 2001, Eliza worked with GLSEN to co-produce the award-winning documentary Out of the Past, which highlighted Bayard Rustin’s role as a lead organizer of the March on Washington and the impact of the intersection of his identities as both Black and gay on his career as an organizer.
Wednesday’s daylong ceremony is the culmination of a week of activities celebrating the March. GLSEN is also participating in events on Saturday.
Learn more about the week of events at http://officialmlkdream50.com/ and tune into C-Span from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. ET to watch Wednesday's speeches.
In a groundbreaking move, Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law into effect in California that allows transgender youth to use the bathroom in school that corresponds to their gender identity.
Although Fox News thinks transgender rights don’t make sense, saying it’s “an impetus to pander to political correctness,” this new law is a major breakthrough for transgender students like 16-year-old Ashton in Ohio. Watch this video in which Ashton shares his struggles as a transgender student.
Transgender Student Rights provides an online community of resources to support transgender and gender nonconforming students. With this new partnership, the program will become a recognized vehicle for action, events and community engagement through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, to help students like Ashton who must deal with harassment born out of misunderstanding on a daily basis.
Thank you for your support, which allows us to advocate for every student, in every school, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Andy Marra, Public Relations Manager
Learn about tickets and sponsorship oppotunities here.
NEW YORK, NY – Aug. 19, 2013 – GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), today announced that Emmy-nominated, award-winning actress Kerry Washington, star of the hit ABC-TV series Scandal and feature films Django Unchained and Ray, and openly gay LA Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs for this year’s GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles presented by Target and Wells Fargo, to take place at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday, October 18, 2013.
“GLSEN is on the front lines of keeping kids safe from bullying in our schools. That’s absolutely a cause that I support and believe in,” said Ms. Washington.
“GLSEN levels the playing field for kids who are bullied simply for being themselves,” said Mr. Rogers. “Any help I can lend to that effort…any way I can make these kids lives a little bit easier, that’s what I’m going to do.”
In addition, the organization also announced the impressive Host Committee for the event, which includes Betsy Beers (Executive Producer – Scandal; Grey’s Anatomy; Private Practice); Dan Berendsen (Creator/Executive Producer – Baby Daddy; The Nine Lives of Chloe King); Greg Berlanti (Executive Producer – Arrow; Brothers and Sisters, Golden Boy; Political Animals); Linda Bell Blue (Executive Producer, Entertainment Tonight); Matt Bomer (Actor - White Collar, Magic Mike); Kevin Brockman (Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group); Donald De Line (Film Producer – Pain & Gain; Green Lantern; I Love You, Man); Robert Greenblatt (Chairman, NBC Entertainment); Simon Halls (Partner, Slate PR); Dave Karger (Chief Correspondent, Fandango); Carlos Lopez (Events and Special Projects Manager, The A List); David Phoenix (Interior designer); Shonda Rhimes (Creator/Executive Producer – Scandal; Grey’s Anatomy; Private Practice); and Chip Sullivan (Head of Publicity, DreamWorks Studios).
The GLSEN Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models.
“We are grateful for the generous support from this year’s event co-chairs as we honor a group of outstanding leaders that are strongly committed to our belief for schools that teach respect for all,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “Our event co-chairs generate increased awareness and support for GLSEN that ultimately make it possible for us to focus on ending bullying and harassment in K-12 schools.”
To learn more about the GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles, visit www.glsen.org/respectla13 or follow GLSEN on Twitter at @GLSEN and the hashtag #RespectLA. For more information about GLSEN Respect Awards sponsorships, advertising, tickets and contributions, contact Rachel Silander at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.388.6582.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
Sports are the center of our lives here in Pittsburgh, PA. We live each season for our home teams to get out on the field and show us what they have got. This summer, as we head into the middle of another great season of baseball, our beloved Pirates are tied with division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, for first place in the league! When it comes to sports, there is no other place like Pittsburgh. Known as the “City of the Champions”, Pittsburgh is the birthplace for the the championship winning Pirates, Steelers, and Penguins, Pittsburgh Panthers and Passion; teams that have collected numerous titles in championships throughout their history. My personal favorite is heading to PNC park overlooking downtown Pittsburgh and participating in all of the rituals of America’s pastime, followed by Pittsburgh’s pastime: FIREWORKS!
At GLSEN, we know how important sports are in the lives of students.. According to GLSEN’S 2011 briefing The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics, sports positively impact students’ physical health and self-esteem, and it also directly affects their academic performance. Unfortunately, not all the youth feel comfortable enough in gym class or participating in team sports. According to the same briefing, more than half of the 73% LGBT students that took a physical education class in 2010 were bullied or harassed because of their sexual orientation.
We want to make schools a safe space for every student, creating a place where everyone is respected, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Knowing the importance of sports for youth’s lives, GLSEN launched in March 2011 Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project. Led by educator Path Griffin, the project addresses LGBT issues in K-12 schools athletic and physical education programs. Changing the Game is supported by former and current coaches, award-winning journalists, Olympic and National Champion Athletes and now by our Pirates of Pittsburgh!
This summer the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to change the game here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. They are teaming up with GLSEN Pittsburgh to fight against homophobia in the sports teams of this area, especially our schools! And, of course, this important partnership and the support of one of the oldest baseball club in the US could not be celebrated in other way than with a breathtaking game! Join with us the the work of making sports a place where every child can feel safe and successful. Join us on Tuesday August 6th to honor the Pittsburgh Pirates for commitment to LGBT students and cheer them on to another win against the Florida Marlins!
Vanessa Davis is a leader with GLSEN's Pittsburgh chapter, working to ensure that all students are valued and respected.