NEW YORK, June 27, 2007
Ė The end of the 2006-07 school year brings with it an important milestone in improving school climate Ė the number of Gay-Straight Alliances registered with GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, has surpassed 3,500.
Since the first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) was formed in 1988, 3,577 GSAs have registered with GLSEN, at least one from every state, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.
The top states for GSA registrations are California (517), New York (315), Massachusetts (242), Pennsylvania (145) and Illinois (139). A complete list is available at the end of this release.
"When a straight student came to me in 1988 with an idea about spreading tolerance and respect, I could not have imagined that Gay-Straight Alliances would become as important and prevalent as they are today," said GLSEN founder and executive director Kevin Jennings, a history teacher at Concord Academy in Massachusetts in 1988. "The spirit of tolerance in so many of our nationís students truly amazes us at GLSEN. Schools still are not a safe place for far too many of them, but GSAs are helping change that every day."
GSAs are school clubs created by students and their advisors. GLSEN offers a wealth of resources and programs they can participate in like the annual National Day of Silence.
Despite efforts to ban, mischaracterize and limit access to GSAs, the Federal Equal Access Act protects the right of students to form such clubs. Registrations reached 1,000 by November 2001, 2,000 by March 2004 and 3,000 by June 2005.
Now, more than 3,500 GSAs are improving school climate across the country.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students feel safer at school, skip school less and have a greater sense of belonging when their school has a GSA, according to GLSENís 2005 National School Climate Survey of 1,732 LGBT students.
Students whose school had a GSA were less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation (60.8%) and their gender expression (38.2%) compared to those students without GSAs (67.5% and 43.4%, respectively).
Students whose school had a GSA were less likely to miss school because they felt unsafe. About a third of students whose school did not have a GSA missed at least one day of school in the past month (32%) compared to a quarter of students whose school had a GSA (25%).
Students whose school had a GSA reported a higher level of school belonging (2.78 vs. 2.67 on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being highest).
STATE, # of CLUBS
New York 315
New Jersey 136
North Carolina 76
New Hampshire 39
Rhode Island 28
New Mexico 22
South Carolina 12
District of Columbia 6
South Dakota 6
West Virginia 5
North Dakota 2
Puerto Rico 1
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSENís educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.