October 17, 2011 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), today announced the beginning of GLSEN's Ally Week with more than 2,000 middle and high schools in all 50 states and nine countries taking a pledge to be allies to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying in schools.
Ally Week was founded in 2005 by students as an opportunity for Gay-Straight Alliances and similar student clubs to recognize and encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in their schools and local communities.
"Ally Week is important because it seeks to identify, celebrate and support a vital group within the LGBT community that fulfills a unique purpose in the quest for safe and more inclusive schools," said Carly Friends, a 13-year-old student from Sahuarita, Az. "Every day, allies offer a much-needed support system to LGBT youth. They speak up for people who, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, do not feel safe doing so themselves. And as a straight ally myself, I cannot stress enough how important this week of action is."
Students participate in Ally Week from October 17-21 in a variety of ways but include people taking the Ally Week pledge by signing a pledge card in their school or online at www.allyweek.org.
Participants in the Ally Week pledge to:
- Not use anti-LGBT language or slurs;
- Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed;
- Support efforts to end bullying and harassment and;
- Encourage others to be allies.
While Ally Week is a student-focused event, students have invited their principals, counselors, teachers and other school staff to participate.
In partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), GLSEN has encouraged Ally Week participants to take part in Spirit Day on October 20, 2011 as a part of the week-long event. Spirit Day encourages individuals to take a stand against anti-LGBT bullying and show support for LGBT youth. Spirit Day participants are encouraged to wear purple. For more information about Spirit Day visit www.glaad.org/spiritday.
According to the GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment at school each year because of their sexual orientation and nearly two-thirds because of their gender expression. Findings also revealed that 61.1% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 39.9% because of how they expressed their gender.
"Sadly, we know that anti-LGBT bullying has severe consequences on a student's chance to excel in school," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "Allies play a significant role in creating safe learning environments for LGBT students. GLSEN's Ally Week invites people to shape a culture where all students feel safe, valued and respected, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."
Follow GLSEN's Ally Week online! Like our Ally Week Facebook page here. You can also find us on Twitter at @glsen. Use the Twitter hashtag #AllyWeek.
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