>Dr. Jill Biden, a 28-year-educator and wife of the Vice President, spoke at last night’s GLSEN Respect Awards – New York gala, making the case that all students deserve to be safe in school, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Biden pointed to the recent suicides of Carl Walker-Hoover and Jaheem Herrera, who had suffered constant anti-gay bullying, as part of the consequences of the “failure to confront a hostile school climate where bullying and harassment can be daily occurrences.” Sirdeaner Walker, Carl’s mother, also attended and received the GLSEN Award for Courage.
Dr. Biden’s remarks:
(Clip begins with low audio. It is corrected about half-way through.)
In September 2002, three skinheads were roaming a park in Rheims, France, looking to "do an Arab," when they settled for a gay man instead. Twenty-nine-year-old François Chenu fought back fiercely, but he was beaten unconscious and thrown into a river, where he drowned.
The acclaimed French verité film Beyond Hatred is the story of the crime's aftermath; above all, of the Chenu family's brave and heartrending struggle to seek justice while trying to make sense of such pointless violence and unbearable loss. With remarkable dignity, they fight to transcend hatred and the inevitable desire for revenge.
You can view the trailer here.
Groundspark's groundbreaking new documentary Straightlaced: How Gender's Got Us All Tied Up will make its premiere at a benefit for Groundspark May 26 at Hunter College in NYC. Eliza Byard, who is included in the documentary, will be a guest speaker at the event.
For more info and to purchase tickets visit Groundspark's Straightlaced page.
>A suit was filed yesterday by the ACLU Tennessee against schools that block pro-LGBT web sites including GLSEN but don't block anti-LGBT or ex-gay sites. "Allowing access to Web sites that present one side of an issue while blocking sites that present the other side is illegal viewpoint discrimination," said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group and lead attorney on the case. "This discriminatory censorship does nothing to make students safe from material that may actually be harmful, but only hurts them by making it impossible to access important educational material."
Bryanna Shelton a student at Fulton HS in Knoxville, Tenn., and her mother discuss how the blocked content affected them.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge James Cloninger Monday set the preliminary hearing for 15-year-old murder suspect Brandon McInerney to July 8.
Brandon is accused of fatally shooting classmate Lawrence King on Feb. 12, 2008. You may remember Brandon's father was found dead of an accidental death back in March.
- Judge sets preliminary hearing for McInerney (Ventura County Star)
>Maddie Smith, 14, will be given the Queer Youth Leadership Award this Saturday at the Santa Cruz County Task Force awards ceremony.
Smith, who is an out bisexual eighth-grader, is an outspoken member of her school's Gay Straight Alliance and has worked to educate teachers and staff about bullying of queer youth. Before the November election, she wore anti-Proposition 8 T-shirts to school every day.
- Students, allies heralded for raising awareness of gay youth (The Mercury News: Central Coast)
Not only do they try to get people to stop using ‘gay’ as a synonym for anything that sucks, but they do it in a playful and humourous way...I think it’s great that a superstar actress like (as far as we know) heterosexual Hilary Duff, who has a lot of admiration and respect amongst the youth of today, to contribute her celebrity to be a part of this.
We agree. If you haven't seen the ads yet. Check them out at www.thinkb4youspeak.com.
- That's So Gay (Homorazzi)
>GLSEN is excited to announce that a federal anti-bullying bill – the Safe Schools Improvement Act – was introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 5 by California Rep. Linda Sanchez.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act will require schools that receive funding from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to implement an anti-bullying policy that protects students from bullying and harassment and includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories.
Now the hard work begins and we need your help. The bill had 35 cosponsors upon introductioin, and we’d like to see that number increase.
Please consider reaching out to your Representative and ask her or him to become a cosponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act. For more information about how to contact your Representative and a list of current and past cosponsors, CLICK HERE.
The bill’s introduction came less than a month after the tragic suicides of a fifth and sixth grader in part because of anti-LGBT bullying. Bullying of all kinds has to stop, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act is a crucial step in making schools safer for all students.
Thank you for your support!
>Students at Kennewick High School in Washington have asked to get a GSA in place, but were told it wouldn't be well received. A supportive school board member however, is working to get over that hurdle.
"Kids are experiencing rejection for no good reason and I think we have work to do to fix that," said Wendy London, a member of the Kennewick School Board...
London has committed to have monthly meetings with the Vista Youth Center. She says hopefully some work on training and education on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) related issues for school district staff can be done.
We congratulate all of you for participating in the 13th Annual National Day of Silence! Your silence spoke volumes by calling attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Awareness activities like the DOS can help make schools safer. Now it's time to learn from your event and the experiences of other organizers. Please let us know how it went for you by commenting on this blog post.
Here is a sample of a story from last year’s DOS, and questions to help guide your feedback:
A student from Florida reports: I go to a very small school where there are only about 30 kids in the whole high school so it made it a bit more difficult. I got one of my classmates to be a part of it with me. We accomplished a lot on that day because at least we let people know that it’s ok to speak out no matter what sexual orientation you are. My teacher congratulated me on being involving in the Day of Silence.
Guiding questions for submitting a story:
1. Have you participated in the Day of Silence before?
2. What type of school do you go to, small or large, public or private, rural, urban, or suburban?
3. How many people participated or supported your Day of Silence event?
4. Did anything extraordinary happen?
5. Were there supportive teachers?
6. Did you have a Breaking the Silence event?