As countries and institutions around the world begin to acknowledge, research and address LGBT issues in education, GLSEN is recognized internationally as the pioneer in the field. Aside from being the first NGO in the world to address anti-LGBT bias and behavior on a national scale, GLSEN is also respected for our groundbreaking research and evidence-based programs that have led to a positive impact on school climate.
In the past month, our Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, spoke at three international events addressing LGBT issues in education:
LGBT Youth & Social Inclusion Conference, An Associated EU Presidency event, in Ireland (as keynote)
XV Comparative Education World Congress in Argentina (panel discussions along with Dr. Joseph Kosciw, GLSEN Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives)
Todo Mejora/UNESCO symposium in Chile (keynote)
Also check out Dr. Kosciw's blog post highlighting GLSEN's work with UNESCO to create a Global Network to Combat Anti-LGBT Prejudice and Violence in Schools, which also met
GLSEN and UNESCO recently hosted a convening of 24 institutions from around the world that are researching and/or working to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in primary and secondary education and among youth. Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Joseph Kosciw, shares the backstory to this historic event.
In recent years, GLSEN has also seen increasing international attention to the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in schools, and a growing concern regarding anti-LGBT violence and bias directed at youth as a serious human rights concern and barrier to global development goals. Although most of GLSEN's work has been focused domestically in the United States, we have a history of providing technical assistance to NGOs and university faculty in other countries regarding best practices both in researching school climate issues and in developing programs to prevent and curtail bullying and violence in schools.
UNESCO has recently articulated a need for more research on LGBT students globally, particularly in developing countries, and begun to host new initiatives, including the first-ever international consultation on homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, which was accompanied by two related publications: “Review of Homophobic Bullying in Educational Institutions” and “Education Sector Responses to Homophobic Bullying.” Findings from UNESCO’s international consultation suggest that in many countries, civil society organizations have played an important role in addressing homophobic bullying by documenting the extent of the problem, thereby providing the evidence base for both advocacy and program development.
This past year, in the interest of infusing LGBT issues into the international education discussion, GLSEN sought submissions for papers about LGBT students' experiences and homophobic and transphobic bullying internationally for an international education research conference, the World Comparative Education Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. GLSEN received proposals from NGOs and researchers from more than 15 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. In June, all four of our panel proposals on homophobic and transphobic bullying and the experiences of LGBT students worldwide were presented at the World Congress: 1) school climate, 2) international landscape, 3) supportive educators, and 4) effective interventions. We received a small planning grant from a U.S. foundation for this event and are raising additional funds to enable us to bring representatives of organizations from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, and Turkey to the event and our convening.
To capitalize on the amazing brain power of this global group of activists and scholars, GLSEN, in partnership with UNESCO, coordinated an all day meeting with this group of activists and scholars working in different countries – to strategize about how to coordinate our collective resources and knowledge to reduce homophobic and transphobic prejudice and violence in schools globally. Some of the core priorities identified for future work included: comparative research study across countries, developing a central repository for global LGBT-related educational resources, and developing a roadmap re: world organizations and their work/funding on school climate and on LGBT issues. We are thankful for the financial support from the Arcus Foundation and IBM that allowed us to begin these conversations and the planning to support a global effort. As someone who is extremely committed to doing research in service of advocacy, I am personally awestruck and empowered by the magnificent research, program and advocacy work that these organizations have been doing to improve the lives of LGBT youth worldwide and to make schools safer and more respectful for all students!
As we continue our #GLSENPROUD celebration this Pride Month, today I want to tell you about GLSEN Student Ambassador Matt Shankles, a shining example of how students really can make a difference.
A native of Marion, Iowa, Matt faced his own set of challenges at school when he came out as LGBT. He experienced name-calling, bullying and harassment from his peers simply for being himself.
Matt chose to take action. He looked for ways to change his school climate. He began a Twitter campaign to tweet encouragement to students who had been bullied.
Matt also participated in GLSEN’s Safe Schools Advocacy Summit in Washington where he met with lawmakers to push for the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
But Matt’s work didn’t stop there. He joined GLSEN’s Student Ambassadors team. He spoke on a cyberbullying panel hosted by Iowa’s Governor. He also went on to testify at a Senate committee hearing in Iowa chaired by Senator Tom Harkin to discuss the need for safer schools.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Senator Harkin introduced an education bill that included provisions from both SSIA and SNDA. We can’t help but believe this was partly made possible because of Matt.
We celebrate students like Matt and others who are working to make their own schools and communities better. These incredible young people continue to inspire and challenge GLSEN to work harder for a better tomorrow for every student in K-12 schools. Are you proud of a student leader in your community? Tweet to us about it using #GLSENPROUD.
Across the country, GLSEN chapters have been and continue to participate in Pride events to raise awareness about their work to make school climate better for all within their local communities. They’re bringing together local students, educators, parents and other community members to table, march and be proud.
Join us in being #GLSENPROUD now! Dates and contact information are below.
6 April – GLSEN Phoenix – Phoenix Pride – email@example.com
4 May – GLSEN Massachusetts – Northhampton Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
1 June - GLSEN Hawai’i – Honolulu Pride – email@example.com
1 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Black and Latino Pride, Albany –firstname.lastname@example.org
2 June – GLSEN Central New Jersey -New Jersey Pride, Asbury Park –email@example.com
2 June – GLSEN Hudson Valley – New Paltz – firstname.lastname@example.org
8 June – GLSEN Kansas City – St. Joseph Pride, MO – email@example.com
8 June – GLSEN Northern Virginia – Capital Pride, DC – firstname.lastname@example.org
9 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Capital Pride, Albany – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN Middle Tennessee – Nashville Pride – email@example.com
15 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Hudson Pride, Albany – firstname.lastname@example.org
15 June – GLSEN Southern Maine – Portland Pride – email@example.com
15-16 June – GLSEN West Michigan – West Michigan Pride, Grand Rapids –firstname.lastname@example.org
16 June – GLSEN Baltimore – Baltimore Pride – email@example.com
16 June – GLSEN Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
20-22 June – GLSEN Omaha – Omaha Pride – email@example.com
22 June - GLSEN East Tennessee – Knoxville Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
22 June – GLSEN New York Capital Region – Schenectady Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Greater Cincinnati – Cincinnati Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Downeast Maine – Northern Maine Pride, Bangor –email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Houston – Houston Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
29 June – GLSEN Massachusetts – North Shore Pride – email@example.com
29 June – GLSEN Tampa – St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg – firstname.lastname@example.org
30 June – GLSEN Washington State – Seattle Pride – email@example.com
13 July – GLSEN San Diego – San Diego Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
6 September – GLSEN Southern Nevada – Las Vegas Pride – email@example.com
5 October – GLSEN Orlando – Orlando Pride – firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t see your city represented? Check for a chapter in your area at www.glsen.org/chapters.
GLSEN IS PROUD OF…
Here at GLSEN we have so much to be proud of – including yesterday’s major milestone for the Safe School Improvement Act – and supporters like you make this work happen! GLSEN’s victories – large and small – can be found everywhere.
As we enter Pride Month, we want to share some news that has us beaming with pride. Be on the lookout for a few of these stories in your inbox this month that we hope will leave you inspired and energized.
We also have a surprise (or two) planned for this month to express appreciation for our loyal supporters.
To kick off Pride month, would you share with GLSEN what makes you proud and use #GLSENPROUD on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr when you do? Snap a photo with our sign sharing what fills you with pride and send it to us on your favorite social network.
Stay tuned throughout the month as we share our pride with you!
Here's our first update from Emma & César: We made it to DC safely and back to the hotel -- despite construction on the subway! We're about to head into our first workshop and wanted to send you a quick first hello. Check it out.
Has your Gay-Straight Alliance or similar club accomplished amazing things this year? Tell us how your club is making a difference in your schoo! Your GSA could be selected as GLSEN’s 2013 GSA of the Year, presented by AT&T, to be honored at the Respect Awards – New York on May 20. Apply now. GLSEN will send a GSA student representative and the GSA’s advisor to New York to accept the award. One runner-up will receive recognition in the Respect Awards program. Click here to nominate a GSA (including your own)! GLSEN is also calling for nominations for our 2013 Educator of the Year, presented by Sodexo. Each year GLSEN recognizes and celebrates a K-12 Educator for outstanding accomplishments and commitment to safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Click here to nominate an educator for GLSEN’s Educator of the Year Award The period to nominate closes February 24th at midnight, so submit today!
This post by Marissa was originally posted on her Tumblr.
This picture is of my principal, assistant principal, and I during No Name Calling Week.
I got my GSA to do this thing where we wore shirts with names crossed out that we dislike when used out of context, with negative connotation, or just to hurt others intentionally. We knew what had to be done in order to get our point across, but we were still pretty nervous about wearing our shirts to school. I got a lot of weird looks and a few whispers as I made my way to my first class, which was expected. But what I didn’t expect were the high fives I received after explaining to a few curious students why I was wearing the shirt. I definitely did not anticipate the hug from one of my classmates, and the genuine “Thank you” that accompanied it. More and more questions arose about why we were wearing the shirts, and where we had gotten them. I told a few kids that our sponsor helped us make them, and that she had paint in her room. Long story short: the idea caught on. By my third class, I had seen several random kids at my school who weren’t even members of the GSA wearing shirts they had made. Some had names they’d been called personally (like “Gay Bitch” and “Slut”). It completely took me by surprise, and the whole event turned out to be just...surreal. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The next day, my principal stopped me by my locker, wearing a shirt that he had made. Apparently, he asked the sponsor of our GSA about the outbreak of shirts in his hallways and decided to make one of his own, along with the assistant principal. He told me that he supported the GSA 100%, and that he was proud of me. I may or may not have broken out in tears. That’s not important. The important part is that I had just been about to completely give up trying to make this Gay-Straight Alliance work. I felt like I was letting my babies down. We had started it ourselves ...but it was going nowhere. We wanted to make a difference, but we felt like we weren’t even close to getting through to our peers. This event opened everyone’s eyes to who we are and what we are capable of. I am so glad that our hard work hasn’t been in vain and I couldn’t be prouder.
Marissa is a 17-year-old senior from Chicago, Illinois who is president of her school's GSA. She loves acting, books, and the world of musical theater.
Al Franken is a U.S. senator from Minnesota and a lead sponsor on the Student Nondiscrimination Act. Here's his Ally Week message:
I’m proud to celebrate Ally Week with GLSEN and Gay-Straight Alliances around the country—and I’m especially proud to be one of their allies. We will only succeed in stopping anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in our nation’s schools by locking arms and standing united—young and old, gay and straight—against discrimination. If we do this, it will only be a matter of time before we pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, two pieces of legislation which will go a long way in guaranteeing safe and effective schools for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Student San Francisco, CA
I first discovered a dearth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature in schools when I needed information on how come out as lesbian to my parents in 7th grade. I was scared. I had no idea how to tell my family that I wanted to marry a girl. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to come out. While my family was accepting, I could not shake my discomfort from knowing that other kids in my school had no books to turn to for help. This inspired me to start The Make It Safe Project, an organization that sends books about sexual orientation and gender expression to schools and youth homeless shelters. Each box contains ten books, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with topics ranging from coming out to dealing with bullying. In the last year, I have spent over 500 hours on The Make It Safe Project, giving more than 60,000 kids access to books. I have reached eighteen states -- Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington -- and internationally to Mauritius. Additionally, I am in the process of making The Make It Safe Project a registered non-profit corporation. A year from now, I hope I can say I have given 100,000 teens access to books. Every day, I hear that one person can change the world, but there is a difference between hearing that and experiencing it yourself. I hope my story inspires you to help make your community safe for all students. I hope you, too, get the chance to experience the feeling you get from knowing you have made a difference. For the past two years, Amelia has participated in GLSEN's Student Ambassador program, a student leadership program run by GLSEN's communications department. She credits the success of The Make It Safe Project to the experience, tools, and support she gained through the Ambassador program. If you are interested in GLSEN's Student Ambassador program, make sure you are subscribed to student updates and we'll let you know when applications open this spring.