This was the task handed to the Top 100 charities in Chase Community Giving. We at GLSEN had one goal in mind when contemplating that question: Make the biggest impact for the most students possible. Then we thought, why stop there? Why not come up with something that could potentially benefit every student in the country?
GLSEN's Big Idea is to send our newly updated Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school in the country, public and private.
We want every school in the country to have a guide to help educators create safe spaces for LGBT youth in school that also provides concrete strategies for supporting LGBT students, educating about anti-LGBT bullying and advocating for changes in schools.
So if you help us win $1 million by voting for us Friday, Jan15-22, we will provide every middle and high school in the country with a resource to make schools safer for every student.
Because every student deserves a safe space. And safe spaces save lives.
GLSEN is one of 100 finalists in Chase Community Giving, a project with Facebook to award $10 million to charities. Top vote-getter in the final round of voting (Jan. 15-22) is awarded $1 million. The next five vote-getters will be awarded $100,000 each.
We are proud to say that two of our partners working to make the world a safer place for LGBT youth, Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project, are also finalists. Luckily, every Facebook user is given five votes starting Jan. 15. We hope you'll use three of your five on us.
More to come later this week.
From our joint press release:
In a joint statement, GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard, Matthew Shepard Foundation executive director Jason Marsden and The Trevor Project executive director Charles Robbins said:
"We are grateful for the overwhelming support Facebook users have already shown GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project in the first round of the Chase Community Giving program. Our three organizations have worked together for years to create a safer and better world for LGBT youth. Because of this partnership and the scarcity of resources available to fund crucial support for LGBT youth, we have decided to work together to ensure that each organization has the best chance to further our important work through the grants awarded as part of the Chase program. We ask our supporters to use three of their five votes for GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project."
>You did it! GLSEN finished in the Top 100 in the first round of the Chase Community Giving campaign on Facebook.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for GLSEN. We are extremely humbled by the support of so many who believe in our mission to ensure safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
By placing in the Top 100, GLSEN will receive a $25,000 donation toward our work to create a world where all students are valued and respected, a world where words like "fag" and "dyke" are no longer considered acceptable phrases in some schools and classrooms, a world where nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students no longer experience harassment in school each year because of their sexual orientation, a world where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community.
A world where young people like Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover no longer make the choice that not living is easier than enduring constant bullying and harassment at school.
Voting in Round 2 starts Jan. 15. Please consider voting for GLSEN again, or for the first time. The overall winner receives a donation of $1 million.
See the full list of the Top 100 here.
And thank you again.
>Fantastic news out of Oklahoma: the Oklahoma City School Board voted 5-2 yesterday to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of categories protected in the Oklahom City Public Schools anti-bullying policy.
Oklahoma is one of 38 states that does not protect students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (see the states here and a handy map below), so this news is particularly important for students in Oklahoma City schools.
It's also important to remember that these protections extend beyond LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students because bullying based on perceived sexual orientation is also rampant in schools. You don't have to be gay to be called a fag.
>GLSEN is the beneficiary of a performance Tuesday of the upcoming Off Broadway show Santa Claus is Coming Out as a fundraiser to help support our programs that work to make schools safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Focus on the Family is not happy:
"Yet more evidence revealing the dark side of GLSEN–the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network—has surfaced. ... At issue this time is a GLSEN fundraiser featuring a theatrical play called Santa Claus is Coming Out!"
Please join us if you're able to make it to New York City on Tuesday. If you can't make it, you can show your support for GLSEN by voting in the Chase Community Giving campaign on Facebook. Top 100 charities get $25K.
As an aside, Focus on the Family has a tag counter on their blog. "GLSEN" is tagged more times than "President Obama" and "religious freedom." Things that make you go ... hmmm.
>Brendan Burke is a student manager for the Miami of Ohio hockey team, one of the top programs in the country, and the son of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke. He's also an out gay man. ESPN tells his coming out story and provides a hopeful look at what should happen some day: the players, coach and community accept and respect Brendan and are even attempting to think before they speak.
From Miami Coach Enrico Blasi:
I think having Brendan as part of our program has been a blessing. We are much more aware of what you say and how we say it. I am guilty as anyone. We need to be reminded that respect is not a label, but something you earn by the way you live your life.
>A 16-year-old student at Langham Creek High in Houston was assaulted last Thursday because of his sexual orientation. What's even more shocking: He reported the threats earlier in the day to two aministrators who did nothing. The student also asked his bus driver for help. Same result; the driver did nothing. After the student left the bus, his attackers chased him and beat him.
According to the GLSEN report Inside Texas Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students, 90% of Texas LGBT students experienced verbal harassment in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, 50% experienced physical harassment and 26% experienced physical assault.
The boy's mother said it best:
"When the child does what they’re supposed to do and the adult doesn’t, what are you supposed to say then? How do you make him feel comfortable? How do you give him back that sense of security."
>GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is outraged after hearing that a Clayton County, Ga., teacher allegedly put out a hit on one of his students a few days after questioning the student’s sexual orientation.
The Mundy’s Mill High School teacher has since been charged with making terrorist threats.
“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the student and the student's family,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “This incident is deeply troubling on many levels. The charges, if true, are horrifying. Anti-LGBT bias and behavior among students is troubling and damaging enough without the added danger of irresponsible actions on the part of the adults responsible for their education and care.”
While much of what happened and was said remain unclear, many LGBT youth report hearing teachers make inappropriate comments. According to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey, 63% of LGBT students said they had heard teachers or other school staff make homophobic remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke."
Read more about the incident here in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
>Tharptown High School in Alabama has denied the request of lesbian student Cynthia Stewart to bring her girlfriend to prom later this school year. It appears the school may have even gone so far as to cancel prom altogether to ensure that that nasty federal Constitution doesn't get in the way.
The ACLU has sent a letter to the school district on behalf of the student and her guardian to ask the school to do the right thing and reverse the school decision. Federal law and considerable case law (including a recent decision in Alabama) prohibit schools from discriminating against students based on the sex of their date to a school event.
Says Stewart very poignantly in the ACLU's release:
"I can't believe my school is doing all of this just to keep me from bringing my girlfriend to the prom," said Stewart, a 17-year-old student who, as a member of the prom planning committee, has personally raised over $200 for the prom and created the theme her classmates chose for the dance. "All I want is to be able to be myself and go to my prom with the person I love, just like any other student wants to do."
But why stop the discrimination at prom? The principal also allegedly told Stewart that she had to remove a sticker she was wearing that said, "I am a lesbian."
Stewart said that when she told the principal she had a First Amendment right to wear the sticker, he replied, "You don't have that much freedom of speech at school."
Uh, yeah, she does.