NEW YORK - June 6, 2012 - The following is a statement from Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Executive Director Eliza Byard about the recent decision by the Erie, IL School Board to restrict the use of GLSEN-related programs and materials in its elementary schools.
"GLSEN is in the process of reaching out to district officials in the Erie Community Unit School District to understand their decision to reject the unanimous decision of a community-based committee in favor of the adoption of Ready, Set, Respect! in the district. Their further move to limit the use of our materials to grades 6-12 is both puzzling and deeply counter-productive. GLSEN has a stellar track record of providing educationally- and developmentally appropriate resources to thousands of districts across the country for grades K-5, and our materials for the elementary grades enjoy broad support throughout the education and youth development worlds.
"Given the district's stated goals for student learning, GLSEN's elementary school resources including both Ready, Set, Respect! and No Name-Calling Week are uniquely well-positioned to help advance those goals. No Name-Calling Week has been implemented throughout Erie in the past, and this current decision represents a step backwards for the community.
"GLSEN's resources for grades K-5 are produced in partnership with and endorsed by leading national organizations focused on early childhood education, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. They have been demonstrated to contribute to better, healthier learning environments for all students. We look forward to discussion with Erie district officials to understand and respond to their concerns and provide them with better information regarding the quality and effectiveness of our materials."
Seventy five percent of elementary school students report that students at their school are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity, according to GLSEN's Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States. In addition, a majority of elementary school teachers believe they are obligated to ensure a safe learning environment for gender nonconforming students (83%) and students with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents (70%).
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & 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.