April 01, 2015

Cows. NYU. RuPaul. What do these three things have in common? If you guessed GLSEN’s new Education and Youth Programs intern, then you would be correct! *ding ding ding* 

Hi, I’m Alyx, a junior at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. Originally, I’m from the great state of Montana, where (fun fact!) there are more cows than people. I really appreciated the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of being a young gay person living in a rural small town. Even with the many challenges of having to overcome isolation, ignorance, and prejudice within parts of my community, I also was able to benefit from the positive connections and encouragement from my many adult and peer supporters. Being one of the few openly out students in my school and neighboring areas, I was given the opportunity to educate members of my community about best practices of how to support and empower young queer people to thrive while also living authentically. This involvement in education and advocacy directed me towards my current pursuits in the field of social work. 

Now attending NYU, I have had amazing opportunities to work for LGBTQ serving organizations such as The Trevor Project, The Hetrick-Martin Institute, and now GLSEN. My current professional plans includes attending graduate school to receive my master’s in social work with specializations in working with LGBTQ populations, sexual health work, and clinically focused practice. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be the newest member of team GLSEN! I understand firsthand the importance of their work and am excited to continue to learn, grow, and contribute to the improvement of LGBTQ lives. 

Oh. And what about RuPaul?  She is just a fierce queen and one of my many role models. Others inspirations include Harvey Milk, Kurt Hummel, Olivia Pope, and my mother. I try to live my life by their example to become the most empathic and effective advocate for the socially oppressed as possible. 


January 16, 2015

Hey, GSAs: It's time to show your GLSEN spirit by participating in a GSA Challenge! Here's what you need to know about GSA Challenges. 

  • GSA Challenges will be announced periodically throughout the school year, giving you a chance to do cool stuff with your GSA in exchange for cool stuff from us.
  • Why participate? GSA Challenges help us stay in touch with you and see what your GSA is up to! Plus...
  • ...as a bonus, after each challenge, we'll randomly choose a few GSAs to win awesome prizes. 
  • To participate and enter your GSA into the drawing, complete the challenge and share a picture of it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CaughtBeingKind. 
  • Only registered GSAs are eligible to win. Don’t know if your GSA is registered? Register now to make sure you’re eligible

Ready for your next challenge? 

THE CHALLENGE: Have your GSA do a super fabulous random act of kindness. 

  • Include as many GSA members as you can. 
  • Coordinate something kind you can do for a person or group of people, the cooler or sweeter the better! 
  • Do your random act of kindness! 
  • Take a picture or Instagram video to document your act of kindness and share it using the hashtag #CaughtBeingKind.

THE WINNINGS: Each day, one registered GSA will be selected to get a gift box from GLSEN, filled with items from our GLSEN store!

THE DEADLINE: The challenge runs throughout No Name-Calling Week. We'll pick a GSA each morning beginning Tuesday, Jan. 20 and ending Friday, Jan. 23. Submissions will be accepted until 11:59PM EST Friday, Jan.23 and we will notify the winning GSAs! 

Time to show us what your GSA's got! Good luck! 

December 11, 2014

Hey, GSAs: It's time to show your GLSEN spirit by participating in a GSA Challenge! Here's what you need to know about GSA Challenges. 

  • GSA Challenges will be announced periodically throughout the school year, giving you a chance to do cool stuff with your GSA in exchange for cool stuff from us.
  • Why participate? GSA Challenges help us stay in touch with you and see what your GSA is up to! Plus...
  • ...as a bonus, after each challenge, we'll randomly choose a few GSAs to win awesome prizes. 
  • To participate and enter your GSA into the drawing, complete the challenge and share a picture of it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #GLSENproud. 
  • Only registered GSAs are eligible to win. Don’t know if your GSA is registered? Register now to make sure you’re eligible

Ready for your first challenge? 

THE CHALLENGE: Take the biggest, awesomest GSA group picture you can in front of your school. 

  • Include as many GSA members as you can. 
  • Gather all the GLSEN stuff you can find -- shirts, stickers, posters, Day of Silence armbands, you name it! 
  • Pose in front of a sign that shows the name of your school. 

THE WINNINGS: 5 registered GSAs will get a pizza party on us! 

THE DEADLINE: The challenge runs until Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 11:59pm ET. We'll hold the drawing and notify the winning GSAs on Wednesday! 

Time to show us what your GSA's got! Good luck! 


November 19, 2014

This year will be my first participating in Transgender Awareness Week.  As co-president of my QSA, it will be my responsibility to educate my school community on transgender identities.  This also means I must communicate the need for Transgender Awareness Week: why is visibility important? Why is it important to build trans awareness across communities this week?

I have tried to look to my own experience to begin to answer these questions. Growing up as a gender nonconforming youth, I often faced societal resistance that I didn't quite understand.  Incidents of confrontation and bullying by various adults and my peers followed me throughout my childhood to the point that I felt uncomfortable in my body, my clothes, and everything expected of me due to my sex.  I found myself thrown headfirst into a strictly gendered society whose norms I couldn't quite fit, and by the time I reached high school, I was too scared and confused to explore further into my gender nonconformity. 

10th grade was a catalyst for change in my life.  I began identifying as queer and I set out to educate myself; it was at this point that I learned about the trans community.  Seeing people with experiences similar to my own was liberating and finally led me begin exploring my gender identity.  I spent nights pouring over personal stories, articles about the gender binary, and anything related to queer studies.  My mental health and overall happiness improved drastically, and I was able to reach out to a community that was truly supportive of my identity and experiences.  I sometimes imagine how different my childhood would have been if I had been exposed to trans narratives earlier in my life. I could have perhaps avoided years of anxiety and depression.  I might have been confident in my appearance, my choices, and myself.  Things would have undeniably been better. 

While these past events cannot be changed, moving forward as people who have succeeded in a cisnormative society we can turn back and begin to deconstruct the obstacles we have faced (and continue to face). With our knowledge and understanding of issues specific to our community, we can and must begin to create an environment of support and awareness for the ourselves and for the next trans generation. 

The bottom line is that trans youth need to be able to see themselves.  They need the resources to understand how they feel, explore their identities, and find others like them.   Trans youth should not grow up believing that they are sick or broken or alone.  Transgender Awareness Week is a vital platform for jump-starting the type of education and change that will make it possible for transgender and gender nonconforming people to find the resources and support that they need.


*Sarah is a member of GLSEN's Transgender Student Rights Advisory Committee.

Transgender Awareness Week is an opportunity for students, educators and community members to increase visibility of the transgender community and to raise awareness of the experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming students, who often face hostile school environments. Click here to learn more and take action! 

May 21, 2014

Each year students from around the country don their caps and gowns and participate in an important milestone: graduation. While research tells us that LGBT students face bullying and harassment at higher rates than their non-LGBT classmates, students from all over the country share with us the positive impacts their GSA has had on their lives. GSAs, they say, serve as a sanctuary and a place of support and affirmation of their identities. They are safe spaces where students can find the support they need to thrive in school and continue on their journey in life. 

We asked students affiliated with GSAs what they are planning to do after they graduate. Here are some student highlights. 

  • Katiayna (NV) - studying Environmental Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Kyle (MI) - studying Global Affairs at Yale University
  • Nadah (TN) - enlisting in the Air Force; future surgeon
  • Zac (PA) - studying at a Community College, then Ball State University or Lock Haven University
  • Daniel (NC) - studying Political Science: International and Comparative Politics at Appalachian State University
  • Taurean (MA) - studying Sustainable Landscape Architecture at a local community college
  • Erica (OH) - studying Environmental Engineering at a local college
  • Louie (MA) - studying Psychology at Salem State University
  • Tyler - studying Software Engineering
  • Chelsea (OH) - joining the ROTC and studying Biology at a local college in Ohio; future doctor in the Army
  • Danielle (AZ) - studying Political Science while minoring in Business and Women & Gender Studies in Arizona
  • Jose (CA) - studying Culinary Arts at Le Cordon Bleu; future pastry chef
  • Lii (PA) - studying International Relations while minoring in linguistics or business at New York University
  • Emily (OH) - studying nursing 
  • Kiann (PA) - studying pre-law at the University of Miami

It’s perfect that graduation season intersects with LGBT Pride Month. We cannot think of anything more fitting since it is truly a moment of pride for students who have made it (dare we say with flying colors) and for those of us on the sidelines, who know there is not enough glitter in the world to capture how proud we are to witness the next generation of world leaders turn their tassel and begin their post-graduation life. 

To the Class of 2014, congratulations! We're proud of you! 

(There might be some extra love if you click on the gif!) 

April 21, 2014

Just over a week ago, youth across the United States and around the world came together in a non-violent protest with a 19-year history. What once started as a class project has become an international movement in which students take a vow of silence in order to highlight the experiences of LGBT youth and to call on their school educators, administrators, and decision makers to ensure safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Read more below about how the Day of Silence came to be, and join the hundreds of thousands of students who have come together to rise up and make a difference. 

Thank you for helping us make the Day of Silence what it is today!

Visit dayofsilence.org to learn more. 

April 11, 2014

Breaking the SilenceHundreds of thousands of participants across the country have taken a vow of silence today to highlight the impacts of anti-LGBT bullying & harassment on youth. As the day comes to a close, we wanted to suggest some actions you can take to break the silence in the coming days, weeks and months.

If you have a minute:

  • Tweet and share the image onto your social media channels to educate others on the experiences of LGBT youth
  • Thank the visible and supportive educators in your school for supporting LGBT students & those participating in the Day of Silence
  • Tell your elected officials to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act (#SSIA) by signing these letters

If you have an hour: 

If you have an afternoon:

March 07, 2014

People often ask me how I “knew” I was transgender. Some of my fellow trans folks have told me a few stories from childhood that answer this question- their parents once catching them wearing makeup, never wanting to play with dolls, etc. But the majority of transgender friends I have will tell me something different.

I was assigned female at birth. I grew up wanting to be a princess. I had (and have) a glorious collection of teddy bears. The first indication that I was queer came when, at eleven, I suddenly proclaimed that I was a lesbian. What followed was months of confused teachers and parents and my sixth grade self trying to wade through it all with my pride intact.

I ended up on a forum for queer youth sometime that winter. I forget the name of it now. It was only when I was filling out my profile that I discovered the function to customize my gender. I could be a boy, a girl, or genderfluid. It wasn't the most cohesive set of options but the inclusion of that one word - genderfluid - piqued my interest.

A few hours later I had searched through the deepest corners of the internet to find out everything I could about genderfluidity, but also general knowledge about transness and gender variance. I had known the acronym LGBT for years, I had heard the word “transgender”, but I hadn't dwelled on it for more than a moment.

After that day researching transgender identities, I could never look at myself the same way. I had never thought that I was unhappy as a girl, but I didn't think I was supposed to be happy with it- I thought I just was a girl and that was what life was going to be for me. I was always going to be called a girl and she and my birth name and I had no choice in the matter. Seeing the vague option for being anything but a boy or a girl awoke a desire in me I had never felt before, a desire to be the person I wanted to be.

That’s why when I heard of Facebook’s new gender options, I had to reread the news release several times before it sunk in. It was real, and it wasn't just three options like on that dinky site from five years ago, it was fifty. Fifty identities with which a person making their profile can align themselves. Fifty different opportunities for someone to feel at home in their gender presentation, when they had never had that option before.

I am ecstatic, not only for all the trans people who can now properly list their gender on this popular social network, but for all the people across the United States who have yet to find that term that encompasses who they are and get to be exposed to these choices and start asking- who am I?

There are issues, yes, with the roll out of these new gender options for Facebook. The othering of trans people; the minimal pronoun options beyond “he”,”she” and “they”; and the inherent risk of identifying oneself as trans on such a public platform, are just a few. But this step Facebook has taken is momentous, and a beautiful start. Even within many transgender communities the inclusion of non-binary people is ignored, and I expect that the options will be expanded as time goes on and become more comprehensive for all types of people. 

Aiden is a member of the Transgender Student Rights Advisory Committee.

February 10, 2014

We're excited to announce a Call for Nominations for our GSA of the Year Award! Do you know a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or a similar student group that has accomplished amazing things to advance or address LGBT issues in their school this year? We want to hear about them!

The GLSEN GSA of the Year Award recognizes and celebrates a GSA for its outstanding work and commitment to advocating and organizing around LGBT issues in their school. You can nominate the GSA at your school or another GSA who has done great work that you want to bring to national attention.

GSAs are student-led clubs that help to ensure middle and high schools offer a safe and affirming environment for all students. GLSEN has supported GSAs for more than 20 years, and more than 4,000 GSAs are currently registered with GLSEN.


All nominations are due by 11:59pm ET on Friday, February 21, 2014. Only K-12 schools located in the United States are eligible.


January 10, 2014

Last summer, I had the pleasure of attending a month-long program at a state university where I attended a few classes led by college professors and interacted with 400 artistic and beautiful other high school students from across the state. One of the classes offered was Peace & Conflict Resolution, which analyzed peace on the individual, small group, and societal levels. As an educational activity, the members of the class configured hundreds upon hundreds of notes that had sweet and kind messages and littered these bright rays of delight across the campus. They could be found on every door, every wall, every light pole and every step. The classmates carried with them pads of the adorable niceties and passed them out randomly to passing students, giving each of us a sense of fulfillment and joy as we unraveled the awaited exclamations ranging from “You make a difference- don’t forget it!” to “Are you America’s Next Top Model? I think so!”

Having witnessed the outburst of euphoria and increase in the level of politeness and good will in the human reactions around me that directly resulted from this experience, my GSA will be performing an equivalent action this year during No Name Calling Week. Everyone deserves to come to a school covered in positivity, love, and acceptance. Why not make that mission literal?! It is nice to be reminded that we are beautiful, funny, smart, creative, and maybe even the next President of the United States of America; we ought to recognize that it can only help our self-esteems to be told that we are worth it. At the bottom of each note, the GSA will post its logo and club information. Hopefully, we can not only spring a fountain of happiness and paying that happiness forward but a growth in the size and impact of our GSA, as well!

But why wait until No Name Calling Week to start being generous with your complimentary behavior? You can do it every day! It might even cause a chain reaction which may ultimately convince an endangered student that they are worth the affection and praise they may not be getting from peers or from home. 

A simple action could make someone’s day, week, month, year, or lifetime. 

Please participate in No Name Calling Week and all other GLSEN Programs to make a difference.


Liam is a senior, and is a GLSEN media ambassador.




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