GLSEN Representatives Make More Than 80 Hill Visits (w/Photos and Video)
Mar 25, 2009
GLSEN student leaders, educators and community leaders on Tuesday completed the most successful Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in GLSEN history.
Thirty-five GLSEN representatives from 25 states made 82 visits, including 13 with their elected Representative or Senator.
Some of the SSAS students and GLSEN staff taking a photo break
Attendees lobbied for four actions to support safe schools for all students, most notably 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.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) and Jasmine Le
Participants also asked their elected officials to support full funding for education, support a National Day of Silence Resolution and encourage members of the House of Representatives to join the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
"This was an incredible experience to meet so many people who are so passionate about creating change and helping students," said Emily Hofstaedter, a 17-year-old junior from Landisville, Pa. "It was an awe-inspiring and life-changing opportunity to take everything I learned up to capitol hill and try to create that change myself."
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Tash Shatz
The youth and adults arrived on Saturday and spent two days developing their understanding of the legislative process and ways to influence it, as well as acquire tools and skills for effective school - and community-based organizing, before Tuesday's lobby day.
"I always figured people whose voices are actually heard were not me in any way," said Alvina Pillai, a 16-year-old junior from Baltimore, Md. "It was just like, 'Wow I can actually do this. I just influenced a person with power.' That's incredible."
Five of the participants joined GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard on Monday to meet with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It was the first time GLSEN has ever met with a Secretary of Education. Click here to learn more.
GLSEN student leader Adrien Arnao talks about how moved Education Secretary Arne Duncan was to hear the student and educator stories.
GLSEN would like to thank the elected officials who met with GLSEN representatives personally:
Sam Brownback, R-KS
Maria Cantwell, D-WA
Jeff Merkley, D-OR
Jack Reed, D-RI
Chuck Schumer, D-NY
Mark Udall, D-CO
Tom Udall, D-NM
Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI
Parker Griffith, R-AL
Dale Kildee, D-MI
Dave Loebsack, D-IA
Jim McDermott, D-WA
Lee Terry, R-NE
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 GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.