NEW YORK, March 20, 2009 - Thirty-six gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight students, educators and community leaders from 25 states will attend GLSEN's Safe Schools Lobby Day
on March 24 to ask their legislators to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which will establish a federal anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories often targeted for bullying, including sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
More than 70 meetings have been scheduled for constituents, who also will lobby for full funding of education, support for a National Day of Silence Resolution and to encourage members of the House of Representatives to join the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
"GLSENís Safe Schools Lobby Day offers students and educators the invaluable opportunity to bring their voice directly to the people who have the law-making power to make schools safer," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "We saw just last year the impact of student stories of bullying and harassment when multiple Representatives, Republican and Democrat, pledged to sign on as Safe Schools Improvement Act cosponsors."
The Safe Schools Improvement Act is expected to be introduced in the coming months by California Rep. Linda Sanchez. Sanchez, joined by 79 bipartisan cosponsors, also introduced the bill last year, though it did not come up for a vote.
The lobby day will be preceded by the Safe Schools Advocacy Summit Saturday-Monday at the Embassy Suites-Washington DC, where participants will develop an understanding of the legislative process and ways to influence it, as well as acquire tools and skills for effective school- and community-based organizing.
GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 (86.2%) LGBT students experienced harassment at school, nearly half (44.1%) experienced physical harassment and almost a quarter (22.1%) experienced physical assault in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
Additionally, about a third of LGBT students (32.7%) had skipped a day of school in the past month because of their sexual orientation and 60.8% said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
GLSEN, 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. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSENís research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.