WASHINGTON - Representatives from GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, will press for effective federal action to address bullying at Thursday's White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, and highlight bullying prevention programs and approaches that benefit all students.
Executive Director Eliza Byard, Board Member Sirdeaner Walker, Student Ambassador Dominique Walker, Student Ambassador Joey Kemmerling and Joey's mother Joyce Mundy will represent GLSEN at the conference and advocate for the administration's support for the bipartisan Safe Schools Improvement Act, a federal anti-bullying bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Bob Casey and Mark Kirk. The GLSEN delegation also will outline additional actions schools can take to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, including ensuring the proper implementation of existing anti-bullying policies.
"We applaud President Obama for bringing critical partners together to address a public health crisis affecting youth across the country," Byard said. "Last fall was harrowing for all of us who work on youth and schools issues, painfully reminding us that bullying has far-reaching consequences for young people and for school effectiveness. Federal leadership is critical to ensure that all young people have an opportunity to get an education. We call on the administration to clearly demonstrate its support for bullying prevention efforts that truly leave no child behind, including those suffering because of anti-LGBT bias and behavior."
According to the White House, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will join the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to welcome students, parents and teachers for a conversation about effective policies and programs to prevent bullying.
About GLSEN's Delegation:
Eliza Byard, PhD, is Executive Director of GLSEN. She led GLSEN's programmatic and advocacy work as GLSEN's Deputy Executive Director from 2001-2008. Byard forged GLSEN's partnerships to advance LGBT issues in education with a wide variety of organizational allies, including the National School Boards Association, National Education Association, American Psychological Association, American Federation of Teachers, Learning First Alliance and National Academy of Sciences. Byard is GLSEN's lead representative with a variety of national coalitions, including the Coalition for Education Funding, America's Promise Alliance, and the National Human Services Assembly, where she sits on the Steering Committee for the National Collaboration for Youth. In 2010, she was appointed to the Blue Ribbon Panel convened by the America's Promise Alliance to select their 100 Best Communities for Youth, and began her service on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board for Sodexo USA, one of the leading providers of food and facilities management services for school districts nationwide. Byard also served on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Commission on Runaway and Homeless LGBT Youth, and currently serves on the LGBT Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
Sirdeaner Walker is an advocate for safe schools who has traveled the country to talk about the need for anti-bullying laws and programs in schools. Her 11-year-old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, took his life on April 6, 2009, after enduring constant anti-gay bullying at school. Walker became a spokesperson for GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and began speaking out to media about her son and the need to make bullying prevention a priority in schools. She has shared her story of tragedy and hope on ABC World News Tonight, Anderson Cooper 360, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Walker has also testified before the United States Congress Joint Subcommittees on Early Education, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Education.
Dominique Walker, Carl's older sister, is a senior at The MacDuffie School in Springfield, Mass. This is her second year as a GLSEN Student Ambassador advocating for safe and respectful schools for all. She has appeared on Nickelodeon News and CNN and in Ed Week and several other newspapers talking about her family's story and the need for the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
Joey Kemmerling is a junior at Haddon Heights High School in Haddon Heights, N.J. Haddon Heights is Joey's third high school. He faced extreme bullying at his first two schools, including being threatened with a knife at his first. Joey started a nonprofit to offer students a forum to talk about their experiences with bullying, The Equality Project (www.theequalityproject.net), which currently has more than 7,000 members of its Facebook group. Joey has appeared on CNN and CBS News and in People Magazine talking about his work with GLSEN and his experiences with bullying. He also spoke at a Congressional briefing in November in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act.
Joyce Mundy, Joey's mother, is Assistant to the Superintendent at New Hope-Solebury School District in Pennsylvania. While principal at New Hope-Solebury Middle School,
Mundy was selected as the 2010 PAESSP Middle Level Principal of the Year in the MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Principal of the Year Program. In addition to PAESSP/NASSP, Ms. Mundy is a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), the PASA Women's Caucus and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
All GLSEN representatives are available for media interviews after the conference.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, 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.