- DECEMBER 5, 2012 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and its Phoenix chapter today responded to developments involving two Westwood High School male students forced to hold hands by the principal as disciplinary action for fighting. The Mesa Public Schools district condemned the student discipline, promising it would not occur again.
"Offering two male students the option to hold hands as an alternative form of disciplinary action articulates that LGBT people are bad and undeserving of respect," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "LGBT students and students from LGBT families are a part of any school community and it is the responsibility of school administrators to afford every student with the opportunity to excel in a safe and affirming academic setting. We are encouraged by Mesa Public Schools response to correct this erroneous incident and our GLSEN Phoenix chapter will continue to partner with students, educators and parents who are a part of the school district."
More than one fifth of students reported their schools or school personnel discriminate against LGBT people through formal or informal policies and practices, according to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey. Less overt policies and practices may also contribute to negative experiences for LGBT students and make them feel less a part of the school community.
"GLSEN Phoenix has reached out to Mesa Public Schools to offer any assistance as the district seeks to resolve this incident and refocus its attention on achieving its goal to 'ensure the success of all of our community's children,'" said GLSEN Phoenix Co-chair Dr. Madelaine Adelman. "GLSEN Phoenix's ten-year history is rooted in Mesa Public Schools and we continue to provide school personnel with resources and support to ensure its schools remain safe places of learning upholding the value of respect for all."
GLSEN Phoenix is one of 38 accredited local GLSEN chapters around the country. GLSEN chapters, with the support and guidance of the national office, work to bring GLSEN's programs, resources and support to their specific communities on a local level.
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.