GLSEN is excited to announce our second daylong pre-conference institute on Thursday, Jan. 26 at Creating Change: How you can make schools safer for all! We’re also co-presenters for the first ever Creating Change Lobby Day also on Thursday.
Friday through Sunday GLSEN staff and volunteers will be leading a number of workshops – on our research, our best practices for youth/adult work, safe schools policy work, and the Day of Silence. You can also find GLSEN staff and volunteers at our table in the exhibition hall. If you’re going to be at the conference, please stop by our presentations to learn more about the work you can do or come by our display to say hi. We’d love to see you!
If you haven’t registered yet – sign up now at www.creatingchange.org.
Schools Focus: How you can make schools safer for all!
Thursday, January 26
Are you a youth or adult interested in making a difference in the schools in your community? Come to this day-long institute to learn about the current state of LGBT issues in schools across the country and what you can do to make a difference. Whether you interact daily with a school community or are an interested bystander who wants to get involved, we’ll share tools for you to advocate for and implement effective evidence-based interventions at the state and local level both personally and by providing information and resources to others. Appropriate for any who are interested in safer schools – whether you’ve been doing the work already for years or are just preparing to dive in. (If you’re more experienced, please be prepared to share some of your best practices in discussion sessions.) Organized and presented by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
The Task Force Lobby Day
Thursday, January 26
The Task Force Lobby Day will be an incredible way to participate in the political process and to make our voices heard by congressional members. This will give grassroots and community activists a stimulating opportunity to help create change at the federal level.
We will explain why workplace fairness, safe schools and anti-violence services are tremendous concerns for LGBT people. The “How to Effectively Lobby Your Member of Congress” portion of the day will include message training on the legislation and role-play visits to give participants a chance to practice messages. Thousands of everyday people will share their stories to persuade their Members of Congress to support and co-sponsor inclusive-and-focused LGBT legislation. We encourage individuals of all experience levels to sign up for Lobby Day. First-time citizen lobbyists are welcome and encouraged! We will board buses from Baltimore and have lunch on the road to Washington, DC.
Federal Efforts to Achieve Safer Schools
Saturday, January 28 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm
This workshop will examine current federal efforts around safe schools legislation, specifically related to anti-bullying and anti-harassment legislation. The importance of such legislation will be discussed, as well as current status, likely legislative vehicles, and the role participants can play in advocating for legislation to create safe schools.
2-4-6-8 Get Ready to Evaluate!: Practical Program Evaluation for the LGBT Activist
Saturday, January 28 - 10:45 am - 12:15 pm
This workshop will introduce common evaluation concepts, provide strategies to help you assess your work, and explore how sharing your evaluation findings can help further the LGBTQ movement. Participants will gain practice using evaluation tools and explore cost-effective, feasible ways to evaluate your activities.
Day of Silence Session
Saturday, January 28 - 10:45 am - 12:15 pm
Calling all K-12 student organizers and adult allies! Come learn about and prepare for the National Day of Silence, the largest annual LGBT-student action in the country, designed to bring attention to and action against anti-LGBT bias, bullying and harassment in K-12 schools! Participants will leave the workshop with a thorough understanding of the action and how to successfully implement it in their school and/or community.
My name is Carly, I'm a student ambassador for GLSEN, and an 8th grader in Arizona.
Since my mom is an ally, I've been an ally for basically as long as I can remember. In fact, I don't think I could imagine that not being a part of my life. And for as long as I've been an ally, the question I've been asked the most has always been “Why?” “Why do you care so much about gay people if you're straight yourself?”
Well, there are several answers to that question. First of all, I believe a lack of acceptance and an attitude of intolerance is one of the biggest issues our society faces, and one that has been the root cause of some of the most tragic events in history. In this case, anti-LGBT bullying, homophobia, and heterosexism in schools have caused tragedies. It has caused the tragedy of talented, bright kids not achieving the success they could be in school or even dropping out because they are too afraid of being harassed to focus on academic success. It has caused hundreds of teens to suffer from anxiety or depression every year. In short, anti-LGBT bullying is a common and extremely serious problem. And I don't want to just sit by and watch it wreck a ton of amazing young people's lives. That's probably the biggest part of why I'm an ally—I think it's just the right thing to do.
Besides that, I strongly believe that anti-LGBT bullying does not only negatively impact the LGBT community, but also an environment in which no once can feel comfortable being who they are and expressing themselves, for fear of being judged, labeled, bullied, or harassed. These kind of hostile surroundings, where everyone is more worried about not becoming a victim then they are about doing well in school or life, is not conducive to a healthy learning environment or a healthy person. As an ally, it is my hope that one day, everyone will be able to go to school and just be themselves and focus on being the best they can be. I want to wake up in a world where people are free from gender stereotypes that stifle their ability to lead the life they want to.
Ultimately, I believe the quote that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” is true, and I don't want to take the side of bullying. Allies are in a position to “be the change,” as GLSEN says. They have the opportunity to break down the walls between LGBT students and their straight peers that often lead to a feeling of isolation for the LGBT students. To be a voice for people who are in the closet and can't speak up for themselves, be a supporter for people who are coming out or need somebody to talk to, and fight along side all the wonderful LGBT youth who have worked to achieve safer and more inclusive schools.
Being an ally is something I would encourage everyone to do, because although you may face some challenges, I have had so many great experiences and met so many amazing people because of being an ally. And at the end of the day, I feel really proud to be a part of a movement that involves people of all different sexual orientations and gender identities, joined together for a great cause.
Have you started planning for Ally Week yet?
- Register: Click here to register your participation. If you're one of the first few thousand, you'll get some free materials to support your participation.
- Gather Information: Find resources to help you start your planning on www.allyweek.org.
- Find Support: Discuss your participation with the advisor of your GSA or student club, or another trusted faculty member. It’s a good idea to print out resources from www.allyweek.org to give to potential supportive faculty.
- Get Permission: Your Ally Week is likely to be more successful if the school approves of your activities. Research and follow the proper protocol for approving an activity at your school. Ask your supportive staff member to help.
- Build a Team: Find peers who want to contribute. Talk to members of your GSA and/or other allies. Tell them about Ally Week and ask if they would be interested in getting involved. Make sure to check out the resources about building coalitions at www.allyweek.org.
- Schedule for next week: Make sure to schedule a Team meeting with your supportive faculty member and interested students for the upcoming week to keep making progress!
Take the GSA Census 2011 and let your GSA’s participation and needs in the safe schools movement be heard!
How many GSAs exist in the country? What do GSAs do? What do GSAs need?
We want to know and we need YOUR help!
• The first 2,000 GSAs to take the GSA Census will receive a packet of free GLSEN organizing materials
• All GSA Census participants will be entered in a raffle to win a www.glsenstore.org gift certificate
All GSA students and advisors/sponsors are welcome to take the GSA Census. The GSA Census defines GSA as an umbrella term used to refer to all student clubs that bring LGBT youth and allies together to work on creating safe and inclusive school environments (e.g., Gay-Straight Alliance, Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance, Queer-Straight Alliance, Rainbow Club).
On the Day of Silence starting at 3 PM EST we'll be hosting a Tweet Chat LIVE! Come and share your experiences with Day of Silence organizers from across the country. Also, a crew of GLSEN staff members will be available to answer your questions.
Participation is easy!
- Click here to join the #DayofSilence Tweet Chat room.
- Make sure to click "Sign in with Twitter" in the upper right corner.
- Enter your Twitter login info.
- Join the conversation!
We're excited to hear all of your Day of Silence stories!
>GUEST POST FROM THE ACLU:
Two things I’ve learned over the years that I’ve worked with LGBT students at the American Civil Liberties Union are that many school administrators and teachers don’t have the slightest clue about what their students’ legal rights are, and that a lot of the ones who do know go right ahead and violate students’ rights anyway because they think they can get away with it.
The only way to be sure that your school will respect and uphold your legal rights is for YOU to educate yourself about what your rights are and hold your school to its responsibility to protect and enforce them.
That’s never more true than during the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling LGBT students often experience in school. Here are four things you need to know about your rights as you mark Day of Silence this year on Friday, April 15.
1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk with your teachers ahead of time, tell them that you plan to participate in Day of Silence and why it’s important to you, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate in class on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.
3. Your school is NOT required to "sponsor" Day of Silence. But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with – it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don't be confused - just because your school isn’t officially sponsoring or participating in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that you can’t participate.
4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they only have a right to do so during non-instructional time. For example, they don’t have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don't have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.
If you’re concerned that your school might forbid you from participating in Day of Silence, you might want to print out the ACLU's "Letter to Educators about the Day of Silence" (2-page PDF) and give it to your school administrators. Tell them they should show the letter to the school’s lawyer. The letter explains what schools' responsibilities are regarding Day of Silence.
And for more information on your rights in public schools, check out the youth and schools section of the ACLU's website.
By Chris Hampton
Youth and Program Strategist
American Civil Liberties Union
Note: If you’ve read the above and think your rights may being violated, let us know! We’ve partnered with Lambda Legal to provide speedy assistance if you’re facing resistance. Report it! and Lambda Legal will be in touch with you as soon as they can.
Wear any color
Tweet the Silence
Silence your tweets
Blog the silence
Silence your blog
Whatever you do, be respectful, especially of others who are observing the Day of Silence, but bring attention to the issues of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harrasment in schools.
>Every year after the Day of Silence we tally up the numbers of participants and supporters to share with our donors and to highlight the importance of the work that GLSEN does. Don't you want to be counted?
Students (middle, high school and college) register here.
Adults - Support our students by signing the pledge.
Help us prove that people care about ending anti-LGBT bullying.
>As the Day of Silence approaches we’ve been getting lots of questions and comments along two similar but distinct threads on our various websites and in our email.
1) Do I need to be silent all day? Can I communicate at all? Can I blog/tweet/facebook?
2) Being silent doesn’t help and only perpetuates the problem. We should be speaking out.
The answer to both of these is similar: being silent has been and continues to be a very powerful way to create positive dialogue around the problem of anti-LGBT bullying for many students across the country. However, each person who participates in the Day of Silence has a different way of participating.
For some, the best way to participate is by being completely silent, including not participating in online communication. For others, the best way to participate is by spending the day speaking out about the issues of LGBT bullying. Some who participate get limited approval from their schools for their participation and so can only be silent during breaks between classes. There are many ways of participation ranging from complete silence to no silence.
The point is that the DOS is a day to bring attention to the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and each person who participates must determine how they can best use, or not use, their voice to do that. If you feel you will have the deepest positive impact by remaining completely silent and have the appropriate approvals to do so then go for it. If you feel that in your situation, you can have a deeper positive impact by speaking out then that should be your way of observing. No one can make that determination but you.
Your voice, whether silent or loud, WILL make a difference this Friday and the Day of Silence will speak volumes.
>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:
I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.