GLSEN and UNESCO recently hosted a convening of 24 institutions from around the world that are researching and/or working to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in primary and secondary education and among youth. Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Joseph Kosciw, shares the backstory to this historic event.
In recent years, GLSEN has also seen increasing international attention to the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in schools, and a growing concern regarding anti-LGBT violence and bias directed at youth as a serious human rights concern and barrier to global development goals. Although most of GLSEN's work has been focused domestically in the United States, we have a history of providing technical assistance to NGOs and university faculty in other countries regarding best practices both in researching school climate issues and in developing programs to prevent and curtail bullying and violence in schools.
UNESCO has recently articulated a need for more research on LGBT students globally, particularly in developing countries, and begun to host new initiatives, including the first-ever international consultation on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, which was accompanied by two related publications: “Review of Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions” and “Education Sector Responses to Homophobic Bullying.” Findings from UNESCO’s international consultation suggest that in many countries, civil society organizations have played an important role in addressing homophobic bullying by documenting the extent of the problem, thereby providing the evidence base for both advocacy and program development.
This past year, in the interest of infusing LGBT issues into the international education discussion, GLSEN sought submissions for papers about LGBT students' experiences and homophobic and transphobic bullying internationally for an international education research conference, the World Comparative Education Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. GLSEN received proposals from NGOs and researchers from more than 15 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. In June, all four of our panel proposals on homophobic and transphobic bullying and the experiences of LGBT students worldwide were presented at the World Congress: 1) school climate, 2) international landscape, 3) supportive educators, and 4) effective interventions. We received a small planning grant from a U.S. foundation for this event and are raising additional funds to enable us to bring representatives of organizations from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, and Turkey to the event and our convening.
To capitalize on the amazing brain power of this global group of activists and scholars, GLSEN, in partnership with UNESCO, coordinated an all day meeting with this group of activists and scholars working in different countries – to strategize about how to coordinate our collective resources and knowledge to reduce homophobic and transphobic prejudice and violence in schools globally. Some of the core priorities identified for future work included: comparative research study across countries, developing a central repository for global LGBT-related educational resources, and developing a roadmap re: world organizations and their work/funding on school climate and on LGBT issues. We are thankful for the financial support from the Arcus Foundation and IBM that allowed us to begin these conversations and the planning to support a global effort. As someone who is extremely committed to doing research in service of advocacy, I am personally awestruck and empowered by the magnificent research, program and advocacy work that these organizations have been doing to improve the lives of LGBT youth worldwide and to make schools safer and more respectful for all students!
Hello everyone! My name is Ari Himber. I am the new Community Initiatives intern at the GLSEN New York City office. I am entering my sophomore year at Baruch College where I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs. I intend to devote much of my career to education.
I am motivated to work for GLSEN because I have had a lot of experience with bullying and oppression. I was harassed in the Orthodox Jewish high school I attended for being queer and an atheist, as well as for my political views; many of my close friends were similarly oppressed. I was the first "out" student in my school, and I had issues with both students and faculty on occasion because of it.
However, it was not just my own experience with bullies that motivates me – it is the systematic silencing that LGBTQ people face in the American education system. We learn about Martin Luther King but not Bayard Rustin; we read "A Streetcar Named Desire" but do not discuss that Tennessee Williams was queer. Obviously, this does not apply to every teacher and school – but it is a pervasive, oppressive means of denying LGBTQ people the role models they may look up to. Not every school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, a guidance counselor who is trained to help LGBTQ students and faculty, or an administration that is willing to step in and put a stop to the explicit bullying queer students face daily.
I am working for GLSEN because I believe in its mission: that we must value and respect all people and their contributions, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. My work in the Community Initiatives department at GLSEN will help advance this mission by helping to map out the organization’s chapter-work calendar so that the organization can more proactively support chapter work nation-wide. I will also be working on the constituent engagement database and reviewing the new GLSEN website for organizational clarity and consistency.
Happy (day after) Pride!
Dozens of staff, chapter leaders, student leaders, friends and even a few of our youngest supporters joined GLSEN's contingent yesterday at the New York City Pride March. We proudly chanted for safer and more affirming schools as we walked down 5th Avenue and Christopher Street with our partners It Gets Better, The Point Foundation and Wells Fargo. Thanks to all who cheered us on. Check out the slideshow to see just how fun and inspiring the trek through the heart of NYC can be.
GLSEN is very fortunate to have a diverse group of supporters that understand our safe schools and why it’s so significant to improving our education system. Support can be a monthly gift to someone designating a portion of their estate to GLSEN in their will.
We’d like to take a minute to give a shout out to AT&T, one of our loyal corporate partners.
This year AT&T sponsored GLSEN’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award. The recognition is given to a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure that all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Farrington High School’s GSA was selected as the 2013 GSA of the Year for extensive work in their school and Honolulu’s local community.
GSA student leaders and faculty advisors traveled to New York to accept the award at GLSEN’s Respect Awards. Scott Sapperstein, AT&T’s Executive Director of External Affairs was on hand to represent his company and co-present the national honor. And Scott recently blogged about his experience at the Respect Awards and why AT&T is a long-standing supporter of the LGBT community.
“I am proud to work for a company that not only values diversity of its employees but supports organizations like GLSEN who are working to ensure that schools are a safe space for all students.
Thanks to Scott and the rest of AT&T for their ongoing commitment to GLSEN’s work. And “thank you” to our many other donors that invest in GLSEN to change schools for the better. We simply couldn’t do the work without you.
Did you miss the Respect Awards held in New York? Visit our recap page to browse through photos, watch videos and read about this exciting evening that raised a million dollars for our safe schools work.
And don’t forget! GLSEN’s Respect Awards in Los Angeles take place on October 18. Check GLSEN.org for breaking news about our honorees, event info and how you can be a part of this glamorous night.
As we continue our #GLSENPROUD celebration this Pride Month, today I want to tell you about GLSEN Student Ambassador Matt Shankles, a shining example of how students really can make a difference.
A native of Marion, Iowa, Matt faced his own set of challenges at school when he came out as LGBT. He experienced name-calling, bullying and harassment from his peers simply for being himself.
Matt chose to take action. He looked for ways to change his school climate. He began a Twitter campaign to tweet encouragement to students who had been bullied.
Matt also participated in GLSEN’s Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in Washington where he met with lawmakers to push for the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
But Matt’s work didn’t stop there. He joined GLSEN’s Student Ambassadors team. He spoke on a cyberbullying panel hosted by Iowa’s Governor. He also went on to testify at a Senate committee hearing in Iowa chaired by Senator Tom Harkin to discuss the need for safer schools.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Senator Harkin introduced an education bill that included provisions from both SSIA and SNDA. We can’t help but believe this was partly made possible because of Matt.
We celebrate students like Matt and others who are working to make their own schools and communities better. These incredible young people continue to inspire and challenge GLSEN to work harder for a better tomorrow for every student in K-12 schools. Are you proud of a student leader in your community? Tweet to us about it using #GLSENPROUD.
Across the country, GLSEN chapters have been and continue to participate in Pride events to raise awareness about their work to make school climate better for all within their local communities. They’re bringing together local students, educators, parents and other community members to table, march and be proud.
Join us in being #GLSENPROUD now! Dates and contact information are below.
6 April – GLSEN Phoenix – Phoenix Pride – email@example.com
4 May – GLSEN Massachusetts – Northhampton Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
1 June - GLSEN Hawai’i – Honolulu Pride – email@example.com
1 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Black and Latino Pride, Albany –firstname.lastname@example.org
2 June – GLSEN Central New Jersey -New Jersey Pride, Asbury Park –email@example.com
2 June – GLSEN Hudson Valley – New Paltz – firstname.lastname@example.org
8 June – GLSEN Kansas City – St. Joseph Pride, MO – email@example.com
8 June – GLSEN Northern Virginia – Capital Pride, DC – firstname.lastname@example.org
9 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Capital Pride, Albany – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN Middle Tennessee – Nashville Pride – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Hudson Pride, Albany – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN Southern Maine – Portland Pride – email@example.com
15-16 June – GLSEN West Michigan – West Michigan Pride, Grand Rapids –firstname.lastname@example.org
16 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – email@example.com
16 June – GLSEN Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
20-22 June – GLSEN Omaha – Omaha Pride – email@example.com
22 June - GLSEN East Tennessee – Knoxville Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
22 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Schenectady Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Greater Cincinnati – Cincinnati Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Downeast Maine – Northern Maine Pride, Bangor –email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Houston – Houston Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Massachusetts – North Shore Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Tampa – St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg – firstname.lastname@example.org
30 June – GLSEN Washington State – Seattle Pride – email@example.com
13 July – GLSEN San Diego – San Diego Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
6 September – GLSEN Southern Nevada – Las Vegas Pride – email@example.com
5 October – GLSEN Orlando – Orlando Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t see your city represented? Check for a chapter in your area at www.glsen.org/chapters.
GLSEN IS PROUD OF…
Here at GLSEN we have so much to be proud of – including yesterday’s major milestone for the Safe School Improvement Act – and supporters like you make this work happen! GLSEN’s victories – large and small – can be found everywhere.
As we enter Pride Month, we want to share some news that has us beaming with pride. Be on the lookout for a few of these stories in your inbox this month that we hope will leave you inspired and energized.
We also have a surprise (or two) planned for this month to express appreciation for our loyal supporters.
To kick off Pride month, would you share with GLSEN what makes you proud and use #GLSENPROUD on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr when you do? Snap a photo with our sign sharing what fills you with pride and send it to us on your favorite social network.
Stay tuned throughout the month as we share our pride with you!
Rogers High School is in Spokane, WA. Their GSA was a finalist for the GSA of the Year 2013 award!
When I started high school, I already knew about the GSA here but I didn't start going until the end of my Junior year. I was just so scared I wouldn't be accepted for who I truly am (I am physically a girl but identify as a male). Since going, I have participated in my first Drag Show and have had people call me by the gender I prefer. I have met some amazing people, not only in our GSA but in the entire LGBT community. We have had some guest speakers (Members of the Spokane Imperial Court and Kris Wood, a Rogers grad who actually began the GSA here in the 1990's) and I have learned that things do get better after high school, or even in high school.
One of my favorite activities we have done in our GSA is organizing the Day of Silence. When we set up our table in the commons and hand out ribbons and instructions, we got almost 300 participants!
I really see our fight against bullying succeeding. This also has helped in my own battle against bullying and harassment at our school. I don't think I could have done it without the GSA at John R. Rogers High School.
In addition, I don't think we could have been as successful as we have been at making our school and safe and accepting place for all without the help and leadership of GLSEN. They really helped shape who we are. - Teddie, club secretary I didn't know what GSA was or even if we had one when I started here. So, my friend told me about the GSA at our school. I attended a meeting and after that day, I was a member, a part of a family, kind of scared of what would happen. But I always had the support of our advisor, Ms. Silvey. My first two years were rocky and we were really trying to just figure out what type of role we should have in our school. Up until we found GLSEN, we saw all the things we could do to reach out to our school and community.
We started with holiday parties (Valentine's and Christmas) where we invited other high schools and even though we had a small turnout at first, we were starting to reach out and connect. During my junior year, I became Vice President. That was a huge step for me. I started being more involved with my club and our school. We started writing to teachers and other staff members and thanking them for supporting us. We also sent thank you notes to Starbucks for their support of Gay Marriage. We marched in the PRIDE Parade with a giant banner.
We were really becoming visible and the more visible we became, the more powerful we became.
Let's just say the last four years in our GSA made me stronger and prouder, safer and truly loved. I couldn't have even imagined that when I first got to Rogers I would be a part of this community. I can't thank our Advisor, Ms.Silvey, enough for letting me join and Rogers High School for supporting our GSA
Well hello everyone, my name is Christoph Sawyer. Chances are you haven't heard of me before; That's because I just started working here at GLSEN as a Summer Communications Intern. While I may be new to the office, this is not the first time I have been involved with GLSEN; it's probably best to start from the beginning...
It was on September 12th 1993 that Christoph was born...errrm...sorry, I think that's too early. I attended high school at John Jay HS in Westchester County, New York. It was while I was in high school that I became a LGBT youth leader. What really motivated me to pursue being a leader was my experience during GLSEN's 2011 Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, where I was selected to lobby for GLSEN to gain support from Senators and Representatives for two of their acts. I was very excited to lobby on Capital Hill but, little did I know how this trip would forever transform my life.
When I came out in high school I faced no bullying or harassment, but faced oppression due to the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy. During most of my trip in DC I was incredibly anxious about what I would use as my platform about why schools need to be more inclusive and safer, because I had lived such a safe life. It was one night during dinner that I heard two stories that would forever resinate with me and sparked the fire that is why I advocate for LGBT youth. The first story was told by a sister whose brother faced significant bullying simply because he was perceived to be gay. Her brother was 11 years old! I could not believe what I had heard. The next story was told by a mother whose son also faced significant anti-gay bullying, a son who was helping and advocating for other gay youth. To hear these stories about young men who were so harassed and bullied, and to see the look on the face of their loved ones and how upset they were was life altering. It is here where my journey with GLSEN began and where my advocating started.
After such an inspiring trip with GLSEN I decided to become much more involved with my Gay-Straight Alliance and my local GLSEN chapter. As a GLSEN Jump-Start member I presented several times to different schools in my area about how to stop bullying, stand up for others, to accept others, and eventually I went on to organize my own events. It was during my senior year, as part of my fim class that I made a 10 minute documentary about different LGBT individuals' experience in high school, and what they thought needs to be done to further acceptance in society. I visited the GLSEN national headquarters in New York City to interview different members in the GLSEN office like Andy Marra, Jenny Betz, and Ricardo Martinez. My film was unbelievably well received. I have now shown the film numerous times and to many audiences. These audiences include the Jacob Burns Film Center, John Jay HS's 2nd Film Festival, GLSEN Hudson Valley members, PepsiCo's EQUAL group, and my own college, Clark University.
This brings us to the present. Like I said, I am now interning in the Communications Department at GLSEN National in New York, and am incredibly happy doing so. I am a sophomore at Clark University studying Computer Science with a minor in Innovation/Entrepreneurship. My film and everything that has come out of it have been my second greatest achievement (my first being achieving the rank of Eagle Scout).
Below is my film. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!
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!