June 19, 2013

Today Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced a bill to overhaul the nation’s education system and replace No Child Left Behind. The Senate’s bill includes critical protections for all students, including LGBT youth, with anti-bullying provisions from the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and nondiscrimination provisions from the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), bills GLSEN has been fighting for for years.

Senator Harkin and the HELP Committee needs to hear from you! Send a message to the committee thanking them for including LGBT students in this long overdue legislation, and showing them that we have their backs as the bill moves forward!

June 18, 2013

Here at GLSEN, we are very excited today to learn that Congresswoman Barbara Lee has introduced a House resolution that recognizes the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. 

In the resolution, statistics from GLSEN’s 2011 Climate Survey are even cited to emphasize the large population of students who felt unsafe at their schools.  It means a lot to us to know that we have the support of Congresswoman Lee who, like us, believes that bigotry, hatred and discrimination are unacceptable.

As someone who has both witnessed bullying of others in addition to experiencing bullying myself, I find it comforting to know that Congresswoman Lee and others like her are actively working towards making sure that everyone feels included in school.

Actions like that of Congresswoman Lee are small steps toward abolishing discrimination and ensuring schools are safe for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rohan Mackle, GLSEN Student Ambassador & Policy Intern

June 19, 2013

GLSEN is proud to announce the selection of Matthew Beck as our 2013 Educator of the Year, presented by Sodexo. Beck is a school counselor at Erie Elementary School in Erie, Illinois.

The Educator of the Year award recognizes an exceptional education professional who has enriched his or her community by ensuring that all students, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, are safe from bullying and harassment. The award honors an educator who works not only to ensure safety, but impacts measurable change that is visible within that person's school district and community.

"As a professional school counselor who embraces children for who they are, I am thankful and honored to highlight our present and future work towards ensuring that all our students feel safe, secure, and welcomed," said Matthew Beck. "GLSEN's Educator of the Year award inspires me to lead educational conversations about respect and to prepare school communities to be the advocate and role model that all students deserve. I am proud and honored to work alongside Erie educators who model perseverance and hope to all youth when handling setbacks in life and ensuring children come first."

In 2012, the Erie Community Unit School District school board banned elementary school resources that teach respect for all families and address anti-LGBT name-calling. The district went further and banned GLSEN materials including programs like No Name-Calling Week, endorsed by more than 50 national education and youth organizations, and "Ready, Set Respect!," an elementary school toolkit created in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"In our efforts to ensure that every school is a safe learning environment for all students, GLSEN relies a great deal on the commitment and partnership of local educators," said Dr. Robert McGarry, GLSEN's Director of Education. "Matthew's story reminds us of how incredibly challenging the work of these partners can be in many places. As we recognize Matthew as our Educator of the Year, we not only celebrate his commitment and perseverance in doing what's best for his students, but we thank him for being such a steadfast partner in our work."

Beck has been a leader in his elementary school and local community to ensure the availability of resources and support for students, parents and educators during challenging times in the school district.

In the past year, Beck helped his elementary school to continue its participation in GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week. Beck also succeeded in securing developmentally appropriate family diversity resources for the school's counseling office.

Beck also created a family reading night outside of the school to further engage the school community. The activity was designed to offer children the opportunity to share in reading and discussing developmentally appropriate LGBT family-inclusive books.

June 18, 2013

Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ)? Are you between 13 and 18 years old? Are you in school currently (or have you been in school recently)? Then SPEAK OUT and help inform education policymakers and the public about what's really going on in our nation's schools.

The 2013 National School Climate Survey is GLSEN's eighth national survey of LGBTQ youth. It is a crucial tool in GLSEN's mission to fight anti-LGBT bias in K-12 schools across the nation. The information gathered from this survey will help GLSEN to inform education policymakers and the public about the right of all students to be treated with respect in their schools. Many students in the past have also used the survey information to advocate with their teachers and principals for safer schools for LGBT students. The survey is completely anonymous.

The survey is available in English and Spanish and asks questions about your experiences in school, including hearing homophobic remarks, being harassed because of your sexual orientation and/or how you express your gender and how supportive your school is of LGBT students.

To take the survey, click here.

If you have any questions about the survey, contact Dr. Neal Palmer, Research Associate, at npalmer@glsen.org. A report of findings from the 2013 National School Climate Survey will be available in Fall 2014. If you would like to see how GLSEN has used the survey information in past years, you can see key findings from our 2011 survey or read the full report by going here: 2011 National School Climate Survey.  

June 18, 2013

Liam Arne, a high school student, from Manassas City, Virgina is one of the winners of the Megan Rapinoe Changing the Game contest. Check out Liam’s winning entry, where he discusses his experiences with homophobia in sports.

"As a gay former athlete, I identify strongly with Megan Rapinoe's bravery. I admire her for coming out and supporting LGBTQ student athletes through GLSEN’s Changing the Game.  In school athletics, I have experienced an overpowering sense of homophobia from my not only peers, but also teachers. As I was beginning to discover who I was in middle school, this permeating homophobia and transphobia haunted me on my school's track team and step team, as well as a competitive community swim team and the occasional tennis court.  Not a single practice or meet could pass by without at least one member of the team, a team that was supposed to provide me with a comfortable and accepting community, disavow who I was without realizing it.  Hateful and prejudicial words and phrases were often used by my teammates. Worst of all, my coaches sanctioned these harmful expressions by using them themselves.  

I came to realize that I could never fit in with my teams, just because I am gay.  Ultimately, the homophobic gestures of my peers and adult sponsors who were supposed to provide a fun and fair experience made me so uncomfortable that I chose to abandon sports altogether.  I am now proud to once again start calling myself a gay athlete since players like Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers have courageously come out, stood up and called for an end to the injustice.  No student deserves to cut short their athletic pursuits simply because of homophobia. GLSEN and Megan Rapinoe are taking steps to change that for the future."

Join us in congratulating Liam by posting your Selfie for Sports and tell us what you are doing to Change The Game!

June 18, 2013

Liam Arne, a high school student, from Manassas City, Virgina is one of the winners of the Megan Rapinoe Changing the Game contest. Check out Liam’s winning entry, where he discusses his experiences with homophobia in sports.

"As a gay former athlete, I identify strongly with Megan Rapinoe's bravery. I admire her for coming out and supporting LGBTQ student athletes through GLSEN’s Changing the Game.  In school athletics, I have experienced an overpowering sense of homophobia from my not only peers, but also teachers. As I was beginning to discover who I was in middle school, this permeating homophobia and transphobia haunted me on my school's track team and step team, as well as a competitive community swim team and the occasional tennis court.  Not a single practice or meet could pass by without at least one member of the team, a team that was supposed to provide me with a comfortable and accepting community, disavow who I was without realizing it.  Hateful and prejudicial words and phrases were often used by my teammates. Worst of all, my coaches sanctioned these harmful expressions by using them themselves.  

I came to realize that I could never fit in with my teams, just because I am gay.  Ultimately, the homophobic gestures of my peers and adult sponsors who were supposed to provide a fun and fair experience made me so uncomfortable that I chose to abandon sports altogether.  I am now proud to once again start calling myself a gay athlete since players like Megan Rapinoe and Robbie Rogers have courageously come out, stood up and called for an end to the injustice.  No student deserves to cut short their athletic pursuits simply because of homophobia. GLSEN and Megan Rapinoe are taking steps to change that for the future."

Join us in congratulating Liam by posting your Selfie for Sports and tell us what you are doing to Change The Game!

June 18, 2013

May 1-7, 2013 is National Sports and Physical Education Week. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to announce the winners of the Changing the Game with Megan Rapinoe Contest.  As an out LGBT athlete, Megan Rapinoe is an amazing role model for all students and athletes. She serves as an example of someone working to Change the Game both on and off the field. Back in February, we worked together to create a contest to give away some signed Megan Rapinoe & Changing the Game swag and a $500 Nike Gift Card.  We received an overwhelming response from student athletes all over the country. As we went through the submissions during the judging process, we kept coming back to one particular student.

 “I went through the struggle of dealing with my sexuality throughout my time in High School and I think it's important that schools like mine are better educated and more accepting  of LGBT students. I've played soccer my whole life and it is a huge part of who I am today. Before, and especially after Megan Rapinoe decided to publicly come out she has been my role model. I will be forever grateful for her decision to come out because it has truly helped me along with my coming out process.”

When we hold a contest, we announce the winner via an email announcement, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter and a press release. We knew there would be attention focused on the winners and wanted to ensure that it would be okay to contact their schools and celebrate their win. The student winning the grand prize was concerned about the attention having a negative impact on their life both inside school and on the soccer field. While they appreciated the gesture, they declined the spotlight. There are many reasons why a young person may not want to disclose their sexual orientation. The National School Climate Survey reports that 63% of LGBT youth do not feel safe at school. It is understandable why a student may second-guess this kind of attention, even when it is in a positive light.

  • More than a quarter of LGBT student athletes reported having been harassed or assaulted while playing on a school sports team because of their sexual orientation (27.8%) or gender expression (29.4%).
  • More than half of LGBT students who took a P.E. class were bullied or harassed during P.E. because of their sexual orientation (52.8%) or gender expression (50.9%).
  • LGBT students commonly avoided athletic spaces at school including locker rooms (39.0%), P.E. classes (32.5%) and school athletic fields and facilities (22.8%) because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • A vast majority (74.9%) of LGBT students said that they were uncomfortable talking to their P.E. teachers or coaches about LGBT issues.

We would love to announce the grand prizewinner of the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest… but we can’t. At GLSEN, we value safety and respect for students, which means, allowing students the space to come out at their own pace.

Instead of using this opportunity to feature the grand prize winner, we are going to break the silence around LGBT issues in sports by  featuring blog posts from other student athletes involved in the Megan Rapinoe for Changing the Game contest in honor of National Sports and Physical Education Week (May 1-7th). We will be bringing you the stories of several student athletes in their own words.

Stay tuned…  

January 17, 2014

This year at GLSEN, we decided it was time that Day of Silence really got into the YouTube scene.

 

 

 

And we're not the only ones. So many of you have been taking to YouTube to raise awareness about Day of Silence and the harassment and violence that LGBT students still face in schools.

Inspired by all of your amazing videos, I started a playlist on the GLSEN YouTube channel collected #DayOfSilence videos from around YouTube. Check 'em out.

 

What about you? Have you created a video for Day of Silence? 

June 18, 2013

 

What's better than taking a selfie? Taking a selfie for a good cause!

Your selfies are flowing in on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and through our website. It's inspiring to see so many people showing their support--showing your support.

I started putting together a slideshow of the selfies (it's playing on the screen in our conference room!)

 

Do you want to join in?

Grab a sign, take a pic, and share it. You can post it on your own social network and tag it with #DayOfSilence, submit it to our Tumblr, or send it in to us.

We'd love to see it!

June 18, 2013

Jeremy goes over your basic rights on the Day of Silence:

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 feel like your rights have been violated, please report your experiences here.

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