>The Los Angeles Times reported today on yet another tragedy in California, this time the sad story of a 14-year-old boy who shot himself at school because of constant torment and bullying.
How many more stories like this do we have to read before schools and policy makers make a definitive commitment to address this problem?
Tall, awkward and dealing with a learning disability, 14-year-old Jeremiah Lasater was a target of frequent taunts by schoolyard bullies at Vasquez High School in Acton, students said Tuesday.
Even the classroom wasn't always safe for the 6-foot-5 teen, who in middle school was poked and teased by some of his fellow special needs students, according to a former teacher.
Monday was no different. At least two boys threw food at Lasater during lunch, two students said.
Then, as lunch was ending and other students scurried to fifth-period classes, Lasater headed to a boy's bathroom and locked himself inside a stall. He pulled out a weapon and shot himself in the head.
For over a year, GLSEN has been working with the Ad Council to develop a campaign against anti-LGBT language, and it’s finally here!
You can check out the New York Times story about the campaign here.
At the new website for this campaign you'll find the video PSAs and resources and links to help stop anti-LGBT language and behavior. Go there to sign a pledge against such language and pass it on to your friends!
Our brand new 2007 National School Climate Survey was also released Wednesday. The NSCS is the only national survey to document the experiences of students who identify as LGBT in America's secondary schools. Read all about it and even download the full report here.
And while you're exploring all this new stuff at GLSEN, also check out our new website.
Thanks for supporting us - you make our work possible!
>In this age of digital everything we can use our web resources to help create safer schools for all students.
This resource below shows how to use Facebook for your activism needs and the tips and tools can be used for other social networking sites.
It was picked from a great site http://www.digiactive.org/
>After experiencing constant harassment and even assault at his West Islip middle school, Patrick Kohlmann, 13, made a video presentation to help parents and teachers understand the impact of bullying. When he was told it was too “graphic” to show the PTA, Patrick took his message to YouTube, where the it has now received over 95,000 views and nation-wide media coverage. Check out Patrick’s inspirational project below.
More than 250 members have joined the Irmo High School GSA Facebook group. But the newly formed South Carolina club may not be able to function by the time school starts again in the fall.
When the club began this spring, Principal Eddie Walker announced that he would resign at the end of the 2008-2009 school year because his religious beliefs conflicted with its formation. While the school is prevented from discriminating against the GSA because of the 1984 Equal Access Act, the school district is now trying to impose stricter regulations on all activities that are not directly connected to academic subjects.
If the policies pass, students would have to get permission from their parents or guardians to join and they wouldn’t be allowed to put up posters, have a group picture in the yearbook, or raise money on school grounds, among other things.
The school board is going to further consider adopting these new rules on Monday, June 23rd. To let them know your thoughts, check out this post from the ACLU and send board members an email.
Read more about Walker’s resignation and the resulting controversy here.
Read GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings’ response to Walker’s comments here.
Read an essay by an alum of Irmo about its history of intolerance here.
>Debbie G. Sent us this story for the blog:
Our GSA had an awesome DOS. We didn't just remain silent, club members decided to make t-shirts so that people would know why they were remaining silent. We came up with the slogan, “Silence Isn't Golden.” About 50 t-shirts were made (this was done in the library at lunch time when we are very crowded, with anywhere from 150-200 students, so lots of people saw us working and wanted to know more about the DOS). Then we figured we needed to do something for people who wanted to show support but couldn't stay silent all day for whatever reason. We borrowed an idea from another school and made rainbow ribbons. We made about 500 of these. We put a ribbon in each staff member’s mail slot. I sent an email earlier explaining what the day was about and I also told staff members that if they didn't want a ribbon they could leave it in a box that would be placed in the office for that purpose.
The DOS didn't start off well. A staff member came to me in the library to talk to me about "library issues." Well he had several but the main issue was he couldn’t believe that I would be “involved in something as disruptive as the Day of Silence[his words]!” I was sure this was a portent of the future. Sure enough, the next day when I arrived at school I looked in the ribbon return box and it was full. I was disappointed. But after about a half hour, something started to happen. Students started coming to the library looking for the ribbons. Students wanted to know how you got a t-shirt, and what you needed to join in! Teachers started to email and phone me asking for ribbons for their classes. One teacher called me to her room to show how she was using the ribbons as a teaching tool. She spent almost her entire class talking about what the day meant (and she is a math teacher!).
But the most gratifying moment came when a teacher I didn't think would be supportive walked into the library proudly wearing a ribbon. I was so sure he wouldn't I told Erica, the president and founder of our GSA, not to put one in his box. Erica refused and said that everyone had to get a ribbon- that they needed to make the choice to return the ribbon, we couldn't make it easy for them not to participate! When I told this teacher that I was surprised he was wearing the ribbon he asked me why I felt that way. I stammered that I thought he was very conservative. He then asked me why being conservative meant that you wouldn't support human rights. He went on to say the Day of Silence was about human rights and that he was for the rights of all humans! A learning lesson for me! Another teacher that I didn't think would be supportive stopped by to give me two poems he wrote to honor the day!
By lunch time every one of our ribbons was gone.
We could have distributed at least 100 more! I got so many complimentary emails from staff and the students were so grateful. I think there were many students who felt that this showed that they are safer in our schools because they have many, many allies! We also found out that every single administrator wore a ribbon!
Do you have a Day of Silence story you’d like to share? Email email@example.com
>Students have been asking when next year's Day of Silence will be held. We're happy to announce it will be Friday, April 17, 2009.
In deciding on a date we search the vacation and testing schedules of the top 20 largest school districts. We then search national and religious holidays and look at all the results together to find a date that works well for everyone. From this process we determined that April 17th would be best for most students in 2009.
So put it in your personal calendars and get it onto your school's schedule too. Remember, it's less than a year until the next Day of Silence!
Stars and Stripes published a wonderful piece about the new Gay-Straight Alliance at a military base in Japan. The military, as you might expect, is typically socially conservative. So the GSA's formation was not welcomed by everyone. And yet, as the advisor put it, “I don’t think another school club has done so much in such a short time.”
Most recently, GSA spearheaded Edgren’s participation in Friday’s “National Day of Silence,” a movement started at the University of Virginia in 1996 to prevent bullying in schools. This year the event was dedicated to Lawrence King, a California middle school student who was shot and killed in February, allegedly because he was gay.
At Edgren the event drew participation beyond the GSA circle, with about 30 students wearing T-shirts and toting white boards or pen and pad to communicate in classrooms and hallways.
“Ethnic, religious, sexual differences is no reason to single someone out and treat them differently,” Heather Steele, a senior and National Honors Society member, jotted in a notebook.
Senior Norah Sweeney, a GSA member, said the idea was floated to change the name to “tolerance club,” but then “we’d kind of be hiding behind the name.”
“The name will never change,” says Kuntz. “There’s no reason to change this name. We’re very proud of who we are.”
>Just because the Day of Silence is coming to an end for most students doesn't mean you still can't register, even after the fact. If you haven't registered, please do so here.
We use registrations to get a gauge for how much participation there was across the country. Students from a record 7,500 schools have now registered. And if someone from your school already has registered, we still like to keep track of all participation.
Thanks again for your courage today. Together, we are changing the world for the better and making schools safer for everyone.