>We mentioned a few weeks ago that the Girl Scout Research Institute released a report on teen beliefs and values. GLSEN Research Assistant Mark Barkiewicz looked a little deeper at some of the findings and wants to share a little about what he found. From Mark:
According to research findings in Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today [PDF], a recent report from the Girl Scout Research Institute, 59% of youth in grades 7-12 agree with the statement “Gay or lesbian relationships are okay, if that is a person’s choice,” in contrast to only 31% who agreed with this in a 1989 study.
Furthermore, the study also highlights that 48% of 7th to 12th graders today say that if they found out one of their same-sex friends was involved in a gay or lesbian relationship, the friendship would continue and not change at all, compared to only 12% in 1989.
These positive changes should not come as a surprise as the American public in general has grown more tolerant of gay and lesbian issues throughout the years.
In doing safe schools work, it is important to consider how attitudes can vary across different groups and populations. Gender plays an interesting role with regard to these findings. Girls are more likely than boys to accept gay or lesbian relationships (65% vs. 54%) and continue a friendship with a same-sex friend involved in a gay or lesbian relationship (59% vs. 38%).
In trying to understand these gender differences, it is worthwhile to consider the role that masculinity can play in boys’ development, such that being gay can be seen as contradictory to being ‘masculine’ and tolerance of gay people somehow can be seen as being less ‘masculine.’ Nevertheless, while these findings show that girls are, in general, more accepting of their gay and lesbian peers, the question remains as to why four-tenths of girls would end a friendship with a same-sex friend involved in a gay or lesbian relationship.
Given these findings, many LGBT students may have a difficult time finding allies among their peers. In the nearly 20 years since the initial study was done, GLSEN has been working to develop school communities in which every member is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Through GLSEN’s effort in providing professional development to educators, efforts to create policies that protect LGBT students, and support of Gay-Straight Alliances, an increasing number of students across the country have had the opportunity to experience a more positive school atmosphere.
In further developing a better learning environment for all students, it is important that youth become more tolerant of their peers, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or how they express their gender. Resources such as Gay-Straight Alliances can be helpful in fostering supportive peers for LGBT students and increasing tolerance and respect for diversity.
>Teaching Tolerance Magazine, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, published a great article in its Spring issue on the thoughtful arguments for and against creating more and bigger LGBT-friendly schools. Two exist currently, Harvey Milk High School in New York and The Alliance School in Milwaukee.
On the one hand, do LGBT-friendly schools segregate LGBT students and their allies? On the other hand, do they offer LGBT students and their allies a better opportunity to feel safe while getting an education?
Put another way, are LGBT-friendly schools a short-term fix to a long-term problem that lets other schools off the hook when it comes to addressing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment? But even if they are a quick fix, should students have to endure constant bullying and harassment when there's an alternative?
The discussion also begs another question - shouldn't every school be LGBT-friendly?
Said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard in the article:
Given the inequalities in the existing system, these schools are essential resources of last resort for students who may otherwise not graduate. They fill a pressing need.
Full discloser: Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Alliance's lead teacher, Tina Owen, and several Alliance students. Five minutes with Tina and the students and you can tell Alliance is not only necessary, but that other public schools could learn a thing or two from the school.
Take the story of Jahqur, a non-LGBT-identified student, who spoke to Teaching Tolerance:
Jahqur Ammons, now a junior, failed seventh grade. “I spent more time chasing girls than chasing grades,” he says. Jahqur’s brother, already at Alliance, told him about the open campus, the small classes, the helpful teachers. Jahqur enrolled at start of his freshman year.
“When I came here,” he says, “I thought all gay people were nasty. I used to say snide things. But I got to know them instead of judging them. Now I realize they’re just like me.”
Last year, when a conservative Christian group picketed the campus, it was Jaqhur who led the response. “The protesters were saying this school was teaching us to be gay and that we were all going to hell,” Jahqur recalls. “I didn’t think that was very a Christian thing to say. So we got all the students to go outside and show them: Gay, straight, trans, goth, emo — we’re all one.”
What do you all think about LGBT-friendly schools?
>We tweeted last week about a horrifying story out of Chelmsford, Mass., in which a Facebook event was created to "kill all gay people yea" at Chelmsford High School.
Thankfully no acts of violence have been reported and it turned out to be "the senseless act by an individual who failed to recognize the serious consequences that may result from such a post," according to police.
The hopeful news is that the community seemed to rally in opposition, with the principal denouncing the hateful action over the school intercom. Said one commenter on the Facebook event:
This is truly disgusting. Everybody should be trying to embrace each others differences and learn from them instead of instilling fear in people who would never think about doing anything to hurt you.
Even though the police and school were able to stop anything from happening, the fact remains that at least one person at the school (5 signed up as attendees) wanted to send a message to LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT that they are not welcome and could face violence simply because of who they are or are perceived to be.
GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 86.2% of LGBT students experienced harassment in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, 60.8% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
This has got to stop. If students do not feel safe, they cannot learn.
GLSEN is one of 100 finalists in a campaign on Facebook to award $1 million to a charity. We want to use the grant to send a Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school in the country.
Please consider voting for us at http://tinyurl.com/voteGLSEN.
It's a vote for GLSEN and a vote for respect and hope and acceptance.
>Voting has begun in Chase Community Giving on Facebook. GLSEN is among the 100 finalists vying for $1 million.
Vote, vote, vote. (You may have to refresh a few times to get it to work)
And please vote for our partners:
You can also help by tweeting http://tinyurl.com/voteGLSEN and #voteGLSEN
>Cross posted at blog.dayofsilence.org
We're only a few hours away from the start of voting (Friday, Jan. 15-Friday, Jan. 22) in Chase Community Giving, a campaign through Facebook to award $1 million to the charity with the most votes out of the 100 finalists. Five runners-up will receive $100,000.
We need your help to make sure our Big Idea for $1 million (to send a GLSEN Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school, public and private, in the country) is realized.
Because every LGBT student deserves a safe space in school, here's how you can help:
- Vote: This is the easy part. Vote at this link: http://tinyurl.com/voteGLSEN (you will need to accept the Chase Community Giving app first). And while you're at it, vote for our partners http://tinyurl.com/voteMSF and http://bit.ly/voteTrevor.
- Change Your Facebook Profile Picture: Show your pride and support with this button. You can also download other images for your website or profiles here.
- Tell Your Friends: Make sure you update your status to say you've voted. Tweet, message, call, text, email, yell at your friends to vote for GLSEN and our partners Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project.
- Join the Facebook "Vote for GLSEN" Event: A good way to show your support before voting even begins.
- Post to other Facebook Pages, Groups, Users: Make sure your pages, groups and friends all know about the chance to vote for GLSEN and help send a Safe Space Kit to every middle school in America.
- Comment on Blogs and Message Boards: Every mention helps.
- Hashtag: Use #VoteGLSEN and #ChaseGiving in all of your tweets.
- Change Twitter Website or Bio: Add http://tinyurl.com/voteGLSEN to your Twitter accounts.
- @Tweet Celebs: Ask celebrities and people with lots of followers to mention @GLSEN, @MSFerasehatenow and @TrevorProject
- Share Your Thoughts: Comment on this blog post about why you are voting for GLSEN and any other ideas you have to help spread the word.
>We're getting closer and closer to the first day of voting for the Chase Community Giving campaign on Facebook, which begins on Friday, January 15! Help GLSEN spread the word about our Big Idea, and encourage others to vote for us, by using the images below on your Facebook profiles, on personal blogs, and anywhere else you wish!
To download an image to your computer...
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<a href="http://tinyurl.com/voteglsen" "target=blank"><img src="http://www.glsen.org/images/data/GLSEN_IMG/img/000/000/670-1.JPG"></a>
Use these images on blogs, on MySpace or anywhere else you can spread the word. (You can also copy and paste the HTML code below each image into blog posts, blog sidebars, or MySpace profiles!)
<a href="http://tinyurl.com/voteglsen" "target=blank"><img src="http://www.glsen.org/images/data/GLSEN_IMG/img/000/000/671-2.JPG"></a>
<a href="http://tinyurl.com/voteglsen" "target=blank"><img src="http://www.glsen.org/images/data/GLSEN_IMG/img/000/000/672-2.JPG"></a>
This was the task handed to the Top 100 charities in Chase Community Giving. We at GLSEN had one goal in mind when contemplating that question: Make the biggest impact for the most students possible. Then we thought, why stop there? Why not come up with something that could potentially benefit every student in the country?
GLSEN's Big Idea is to send our newly updated Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school in the country, public and private.
We want every school in the country to have a guide to help educators create safe spaces for LGBT youth in school that also provides concrete strategies for supporting LGBT students, educating about anti-LGBT bullying and advocating for changes in schools.
So if you help us win $1 million by voting for us Friday, Jan15-22, we will provide every middle and high school in the country with a resource to make schools safer for every student.
Because every student deserves a safe space. And safe spaces save lives.
GLSEN is one of 100 finalists in Chase Community Giving, a project with Facebook to award $10 million to charities. Top vote-getter in the final round of voting (Jan. 15-22) is awarded $1 million. The next five vote-getters will be awarded $100,000 each.
We are proud to say that two of our partners working to make the world a safer place for LGBT youth, Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project, are also finalists. Luckily, every Facebook user is given five votes starting Jan. 15. We hope you'll use three of your five on us.
More to come later this week.
From our joint press release:
In a joint statement, GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard, Matthew Shepard Foundation executive director Jason Marsden and The Trevor Project executive director Charles Robbins said:
"We are grateful for the overwhelming support Facebook users have already shown GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project in the first round of the Chase Community Giving program. Our three organizations have worked together for years to create a safer and better world for LGBT youth. Because of this partnership and the scarcity of resources available to fund crucial support for LGBT youth, we have decided to work together to ensure that each organization has the best chance to further our important work through the grants awarded as part of the Chase program. We ask our supporters to use three of their five votes for GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project."