June 23, 2016

As GLSEN continues to memorialize the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, we believe that a visible show of pride in our identities and communities has rarely been more urgent. That’s why GLSEN is calling upon our community to “Show Your Pride.” In this post, Myra Lavenue of Columbia Sportswear describes how she showed her pride at the Portland Pride Parade last weekend while helping her company give back to GLSEN.

 

Columbia wore Pulse armbands in honor of the victimsAt the Portland Pride Parade last weekend, the team representing Columbia wore armbands in honor of the Orlando Pulse victims.

 

I work at Columbia Sportswear Company, and I love it here. There’s no mistaking my sexual orientation, yet I have always been accepted for who I am and judged for the work I do. Out since 1994, I live by a simple rule: Let them know who I am from the initial interview and only work for companies that accept me fully. Columbia Sportswear Company is one of those organizations.

 

Two years ago, I was standing with my wife and two daughters in our Columbia jackets watching the Portland Pride Parade, as the rain fell. My friends watching with us, also dressed in Columbia rain jackets, asked me why my company was not marching. We saw other companies in our industry walk by. Then someone said, “Columbia is too conservative, right?” Another person asked me if I was able to be out at work. I was shocked! That certainly wasn’t the Columbia Sportswear Company that I knew. In fact, Columbia had been an early supporter of marriage equality in Oregon, both in the press and through the legal system. So, right then and there, I vowed to help change the perception by getting my company into the Portland Pride Parade the next year. 

 

When I returned to work, I partnered with our head of Human Resources to help champion the idea upward to the executive team. As it turned out, they were already inclined to get involved — they just needed to be asked! All they needed was someone to run with it. That was me.

 

For the first year, I collaborated with our Corporate Responsibility team, and we established a small contingent of employees who’d be able to participate. Around 75 employees and over 25 friends and family walked through the streets of Portland, behind a banner and wearing t-shirts that read: Diversitree — We support and celebrate diversity. The response from those we marched by was awe and joy and excitement, and we all felt we helped enlighten people that day. I felt we “came out of the closet” that day, proclaiming we are a welcoming place to work, and always have been.

 

Columbia at Portland Pride last yearColumbia Sportswear wore Diversitree shirts at the Portland Pride Parade last year.

 

This year, to make the march more impactful, I asked if we could make our Diversitree shirts available for purchase, so that we could give back some of the proceeds to a non-profit. Our company decided to donate $1 from every shirt. We’re also distributing special passes to our Employee Store, where customers can have 10% of their purchase amounts donated.

 

When asked who we could donate to and make a long term partnership with, I felt GLSEN was the perfect group that aligns with our values and efforts to help young people reach their full potential. But the main reason I thought of GLSEN is much more personal to our city. Last fall, Columbia Sportswear Company’s CEO Tim Boyle and his wife Mary backed a protest at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, when it appeared that the school was using a discriminatory policy of not hiring LGBT staff to condone the rescinding of a job offer to a lesbian counselor. Because of their stand and that of the parents, students and others in the community, St. Mary’s reversed their policy and now welcomes LGBT teachers and staff. 

 

GLSEN’s mission to ensure every student, in every school, is valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is powerful and resonates with what we aim to do from our offices in Portland, Oregon. I hope Columbia’s partnership with GLSEN thrives for years to help create great change across the country.

 

I have worked towards equal rights since coming out as a minority myself in this country. Helping customers, friends and future employees see how welcoming Columbia Sportswear is made sense for me as someone who is trying to help reduce discrimination and misunderstanding in this country. One small step at a time.

 

Myra Lavenue is the Training Lead, Organizational Change Management, at Columbia Sportswear Company.

Columbia's Diversitree shirts are available for purchase

All corporations are invited to #ShowYourPride by partnering with GLSEN in achieving equality for LGBT students and respect for all in school. You can support GLSEN’s work by:

  • Planning a joint marketing venture, similar to Columbia’s t-shirt sales, where the proceeds benefit GLSEN.
  • Making a financial donation to fund GLSEN’s work locally, nationwide, or overseas.
  • Sponsoring GLSEN’s Respect Awards gala dinners in New York and Los Angeles.
  • Participating in GLSEN’s “Check 4” volunteer engagement program. We’ll train members of your LGBT ERG to talk with their colleagues who are parents of K-12 students. Parents learn how to make schools better for everyone’s children and take home a simple four question checklist.

 

For more information about any of these options, please contact David Murray at david.murray@glsen.org or 646-388-6590. 

 

June 23, 2016
Dear GLSEN Family,
 
Last week, in the immediate aftermath of unspeakable tragedy, educators in many communities had to return to the classroom. Students had to show up for school. The daily work of teaching and learning continued, even as we were just beginning to process what had happened.  
 
In that moment, students and educators alike chose to show up for each other, literally. Many wore rainbow t-shirts, buttons, stickers and sneakers to school, signaling solidarity and pride, even in mourning. Tens of thousands of them connected with GLSEN from Sunday on, as we provided crisis support resources for them and for their students.
 
When GLSEN began its work in 1990, people were only beginning to be out in K-12 settings – whether as LGBTQ themselves or as allies to LGBTQ people. Over the years, we’ve learned what a huge difference visible support at school makes in the lives of LGBTQ students, and built our programs and campaigns accordingly. Today, I am proud to report, almost every LGBTQ student in the US can identify at least one supportive educator. We are making progress!
Quote from Obama
In the wake of Orlando, and as we approach the anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, GLSEN is asking that you continue to “Show Your Pride” to focus our collective strength and resolve, and to be a light of solidarity and support. You may be LGBTQ; you may be an ally; you may connect most deeply with other aspects of this tragedy. Right now, we can demonstrate powerfully that we are all in this together by taking action and showing pride in ourselves and each other. 
 
Before Orlando, we were already facing a crucial moment for LGBTQ issues in K-12 schools, fighting back against renewed anti-LGBTQ action by state legislatures and school authorities. That battle continues, though the ground may have shifted. Over the past week, education leaders in some communities have recognized their responsibility to address hate and bias, and have proposed new steps to support LGBTQ students and staff in their schools.  
 
Together, we can make clear to school leaders how urgent it is that they respond directly and unequivocally. And we can give them clear guidance on what schools must do to make their support for LGBTQ youth both visible and effective.  
 
TAKE ACTION >>> 
 
 
 
Urge your state education leader to take action!
 
 
Jessica Toste, Co-Chair of GLSEN Austin, put it succinctly last week: “Ask yourself: As millions of LGBTQ young people step out into the world today, what kind of world do they see?” No matter our age, our profession, our religion, our race, our ethnicity, our abilities, the answer is in our hands. 
 
Thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do to make our world and our schools better places for everyone. 
 
Ps... you can also show your pride by donating your profile picture to the #ShowYourPride campaign. Find English and Spanish photo frames to use on top of your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures online at glsen.org/showyourpride.
 
Yours in solidarity, 
Eliza Byard 
Executive Director, GLSEN 
 
June 22, 2016

Show Your Pride with a Profile Photo Frame

We will forever mourn and memorialize the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando and will grieve the loss of safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ people for some time. As we begin to think about how to move forward and look ahead to the Pride events coming up in June and throughout the rest of the year, we are reminded of the importance of visible shows of support, whether in person or online.

When GLSEN began its work in 1990, people were only beginning to be out in K-12 settingswhether as LGBT themselves or as allies to LGBT people. Over the years, we've learned what a huge difference visible support at school makes in the lives of LGBTQ students. Indeed, GLSEN's most recent National School Climate Survey shows LGBTQ students who are able to identify supportive school staff feel safer at school and have better educational outcomes. 

A visible show of pride in our identities and communities, whether LGBTQ, Latinx, Muslim or others under attack, has rarely been more urgent. Equally urgent is the need for action, to address the needs of those affected by violence and hate, and to fight back to eliminate those damaging forces in our society.

 

TAKE ACTION

Join GLSEN and #ShowYourPride by updating your profile photo on Facebook and Twitter with these campaign frames:

Facebook

Choose your profile photo frame by clicking TRY THIS from GLSEN's profile photo on our Facebook Page.

 

Twitter

Show Your Pride with a custom Profile Photo frame 

Update your Twitter profile by visiting the #ShowYourPride (english) and #DemostrarTuOrgullo (Spanish) campaigns on Twibbon, an app that will help you easily create and update your profile photo.

 

 

June 22, 2016

Dear LGBTQ Youth,

I’m 33 years old, and my mother still tells me to “be safe” when I walk out of her house. In that moment, it’s like she’s seeing all the parts of me that add higher threat levels to my existence: queer, brown, deemed masculine presenting on sight, tattooed chubby dyke.

How many parents and guardians say the same words to their children as they walk out the door? How many of them see all the things they can’t protect us from as we exit the safety of their homes and are consumed by a vibrant but utterly chaotic world?

And that’s for those of us who have that type of love and support from our parents or guardians. That type of love and support is not a given for our LGBTQ community; it’s a luxury, just like the idea of safety.

Pulse. Orlando. 49 humans. LGBTQ. Allies. Puerto Ricans. Lovers. Sons. Siblings. Humans. Celebrating pride.

Celebrating because we as LGBTQ people have always been here, shining brightly, living out loud and in Technicolor, and we will continue to thrive.

Celebrating because what else can you do but find the glory and beauty in all the people who are blessed to be queer and brown? Because it’s Latinx night and all the world in this moment is yours.

Celebrating because our defiance is miraculous.

Because no matter what laws they pass or how many times the bigoted, violent forces come for us, we rally and push back with every ounce of our universe-given right to live free and out loud.

LGBTQ youth, know that we, LGBTQ adults and allies, strive to create safer schools and communities for you and with you.

Know that as hard as we try, we cannot 100% eradicate the recklessness and cruelty found in an often homophobic, racist, transphobic, anti-Black, anti-immigrant and pro-violence society.

Know that we use our spirits, our bodies and our work in every way possible to build hope and community for all of you.

The forces attempting to suppress and eliminate the LGBTQ community are strong and you should know this. 

You probably already know this.

It probably already lives on your skin.

We learn about the world off the blood of our family members.

We are here with 49 people to mourn, and thousands of our community members grieving, mourning and afraid to go out and dance into the night.

So what do we do? How do we move forward in bravery when our lives are at risk?

How do we reclaim our community?

We must reach for each other.

We cannot shield you from the often harsh realities of this world, but we can hold tremendous healing spaces for each other.

We rally our GSAs and organize vigils in our schools.

We embrace the grief process. Let ourselves cry.

We find solace in each other so that our wounds can begin to heal.

We gather our friends and offer home-cooked meals.

We work on those zines about radical queerness, intersectionality and summer love.

We put on Pariah and find strength in Alike. 

We write articles and blogs about ourselves, in our words because others cannot tell our stories for us.

We dive deep into our studies and our passions because no one can stop us from excelling.

We name our fears, our oppressors and all that must be changed.

We put pressure on school officials, city council people, senators and other folks in positions of power.

We take over bridges as we march for justice.

Together.

We must continue to do the work and strengthen our communities because they belong to us.

We must engage in all of this work while loving on each other and forcing the world to stretch with us, with our queer, trans, non-binary, asexual, bisexual, Latinx, Black, Muslim, Asian-Pacific Islander, Buddhist, Atheist, neurodivergent, totally glorious human selves.

So, let’s hold each other by the hand and say, “I love you”.

I love you because you’re my chosen family.

I love you because we just met on this dance floor, and I never knew my heart could feel so whole.

I love you because you’re brave enough to cry.
And vote.
And rally.
And rest.

I love you because you are vibrant, visible and glowing with pride.

I love you enough to keep fighting and thriving.

I cannot make the world safer, but I can walk with you.

I will dance with you.

We will dance together.

Because we are Pulse, we are Orlando, and we will never forget our fallen siblings in the struggle.

Love,
Gabby Rivera
Youth Programs Manager

June 20, 2016

Dear GLSEN family,  

The last several days, as you might imagine, have been extremely difficult for us in Orlando and for the larger communities grieving at this time, as our hearts remain heavy after last Sunday’s tragedy. But I take comfort in sharing my experience with you and in knowing that across the country and world, we have each other’s support as we all move forward.

In Orlando, we feel a deep sense of grief but also an inspiring sense of solidarity. Last week, I attended one of many vigils honoring the victims of the tragedy. This vigil was as at Valencia College, where seven of the victims were students. Valencia’s GSA sponsor, whom GLSEN Orlando knows well, delivered beautiful remarks about the importance of creating safe spaces—off-the-cuff, genuine words that were exactly what we needed to hear. Her words were moving.

That same day, Thomas Lawson, a GLSEN Orlando Vice Chair, attended a press conference hosted by mayor Teresa Jacobs. A sense of solidarity was palpable there, too. Leaders of our communities—LGBT leaders, Latinx leaders, political leaders, leaders of faith—expressed not only their mourning but also their love. Especially now, it is truly encouraging to see diverse leaders come together and lend their voices of support.

As we move forward in the process of healing, which is only beginning, I hope that you, too, join us in solidarity. There are many ways to support:

Thank you so much for the incredible support at this time. I don’t think you know how much it means. 

Sincerely,
Ginger Malcom
Chair of GLSEN Orlando

 

June 17, 2016

Para la familia GLSEN,

Anoche en el Stonewall Inn aquí en la ciudad de Nueva York, y en miles de vigilias similares en todo el país, la gente se reunió en memoria de las víctimas del ataque club nocturno Pulse en la ciudad de Orlando. En tiempos de crisis, buscamos oportunidades para estar juntos, para conectarnos con los demás, y que sea visible nuestro duelo y nuestra determinación de superarnos.

La pérdida de las 49 personas fallecidas y las decenas de heridos, en el club Pulse ocurrido el domingo es casi más de lo que podemos soportar. La mayoría de las víctimas eran LGBTQ. La mayoría de las víctimas eran latinos. Muchos eran recién graduados de la escuela secundaria. El autor ha sido identificado como musulmán, y para muchos participantes musulmanes en estas vigilias, el duelo se mezcla con el miedo de asalto verbal o venganza violenta. No podemos permitir que eso ocurra en nuestra guardia.

En su mejor momento, cuando todos los que se reúnen son conscientes de su propósito común, estas reuniones pueden ayudar a sanar, y demostrar nuestra capacidad de crear poder en la comunidad a pesar de nuestras diferencias.

Nuestros mejores instintos en estos momentos es imitar  lo que los educadores aprenden a  hacer para ayudar a los estudiantes después de de una tragedia o un trauma. La Asociación Americana de Consejeros Escolares sugiere que cuando el miedo, la violencia o el odio destrozan comunidades escolares, los educadores deben "reconstruir y reafirmar lazos y relaciones" con el fin de restablecer un sentido de conexión, y "hacer frente a su propia reacción ante una crisis y el estrés "con el fin de ser capases de ayudar a sanar a comunidad abatida. 

En nuestro trabajo a través  los años, hemos creado una organización dedicada a construir conexiones por medio  de nuestras diferencias, fomentando el respeto para todos, y, quizá sobre todo, dedicado al poder de transformación de las comunidades de aprendizaje donde se valora y se respeta a cada estudiante  exactamente quienes son. Hemos sido testigos del poder de los líderes estudiantiles educando a tales comunidades, sabemos por qué todo este  trabajo vale la pena. 

En este momento de dolor y luto, todos nosotros en GLSEN, tenemos una contribución importante que hacer.

Ya sea un educador, estudiante, líder de zona, o un donante, estos eventos trágicos hacen un llamado a cada uno de nosotros para apoyarnos mutuamente en nuestro dolor, para construir una comunidad con aquellos de otras comunidades, y colectivamente encontrar la fuerza para continuar adelante con trabajo. 

Juntos, y solamente unidos, podemos crear escuelas, y un mundo con igualdad y respeto para todos.

PD. Si desea encontrar u organizar una vigilia en su área, visite www.weareorlando.org.

En solidaridad,
Eliza Byard
Directora Ejecutiva

 

June 14, 2016

To the GLSEN Family, 

Last night at the Stonewall Inn here in New York City, and at thousands of similar vigils around the country, people came together in remembrance of the victims of the attack at Pulse in Orlando. In times of crisis, we seek opportunities to be together, to connect with others, and to be visible in our mourning and our determination to overcome. 

The loss of the 49 people killed, with dozens more injured, at Pulse's Latin Night on Sunday is almost more than we can take. Most of the victims were LGBTQ. Most of the victims were Latino. Many were barely out of high school. The perpetrator has been identified as Muslim, and for many Muslim participants in these vigils, mourning is mixed with fear of verbal assault or violent retaliation. We cannot allow that to happen on our watch.

At their best, when all who gather are mindful of their common purpose, these gatherings can help us heal, and demonstrate our ability to create power in community despite our differences.

Our best instincts in these moments mirror what educators learn they must do for students in the aftermath of tragedy or trauma. The American Association of School Counselors suggests that when fear, violence, or hate rip school communities apart, educators must “rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships” in order to reestablish a sense of connection, and "deal with their own response to crisis and stress" in order to be able to help repair broken community.

In our work together over the years, all of us have created an organization dedicated to building connections across lines of difference, promoting respect for all, and, perhaps above all, dedicated to the transformative power of learning communities where every single student is valued and respected for exactly who they are. And as we have witnessed the power of the student leaders nurtured in such communities, we know why all that hard work is worth it.

At this moment of pain and mourning, we all, as GLSEN, have an important contribution to make.

Whether an educator, student, chapter leader, or donor, these tragic events call upon each of us to support one another in our grief, to build community with those from other communities, and collectively find resilience for the work ahead.

Together, and only together, can we create schools, and a world, with equality and respect for all.

ps. If you would like to find or organize a vigil in your area, visit www.weareorlando.org

In solidarity,


Eliza Byard
Executive Director 

 

June 12, 2016
Dear Educators,
Today, as shocking news of the horrific attack in Orlando filtered through my timelines, feeds and inbox, I paused to think about what it will be like for you to return to your students tomorrow. 
In the coming days and weeks, as we all struggle to understand the depth of this tragedy, many students will have questions and face a range of emotions. 
The fact that you are connected to GLSEN means that you care about the wellbeing and success of LGBT students, and I bet you are among those educators whom students may turn to tomorrow. Having a supportive educator to turn to can make all of the difference in the world to students who need a haven to discuss their feelings and responses to the events that occurred. This is particularly important for LGBT, Latino and Muslim students who may be feeling especially vulnerable because of the identities of the victims and the perpetrator in today's horrific events.
Below is a short list of crisis response and emotional support resources that we hope complement your school-based support services and provide you with the guidance and reassurance you need as you navigate your way through the coming days. 
Need Someone to Talk To (or know someone who does)?
For those needing additional support, there are several agencies and hotlines offering their services:
1) The Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990. The Helpline can provide immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the tragic event in Orlando Florida. The Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week resource that responds to people who need crisis counseling after experiencing a natural or man-made disaster or tragedy. The helpline can also be accessed at http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov and TTY for deaf and hearing impaired: 1-800-846-8517.
2) You can also contact the English/Spanish hotline of the New York City Anti-Violence Project at 212-714-1141.
3) The Trevor Project is also providing support at 866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org. They are particularly good at working with youth. 
Wondering How to Address the Topic with Students?
Your school or district may have specific guidelines to follow after traumatic events. There are also organizations who have developed resources for schools to use in the wake of any crisis:
1) Download the NEA Healthy Futures School Crisis Guide (Parts 2 and 3 will be the most useful)  
2) Visit American School Counselor Association website for a comprehensive list of crisis response and mental health resources for educators. There you will find best practices and tools to help your school community respond immediately to the needs of students and continue the healing in the coming weeks and months.
3) Of course, information on LGBT-affirming practices as part of your everyday work is available from GLSEN in our Ready, Set, Respect!(Grades K-5) and Safe Space Kit (Grades 6-12) toolkits, which can be downloaded at glsen.org.
Looking for Community?
Vigils across the country are being held in remembrance of the victims of the shooting and can be found, or submitted, to weareorlando.org. You can also find current information about how best to help those directly impacted by the shooting. 
With great sadness, we offer our most heartfelt condolences to the friends and loved ones of the many people affected by such a senseless act of violence. Amid our collective grief we are also reminded of the urgent need to continue our work together in schools to eliminate anti-LGBT bias and violence.
As always, we appreciate the meaningful and challenging work you do each day to support students and provide them with safe, caring and respectful places to learn. Thank you for providing that absolutely essential support. Our thoughts are with you as you navigate this difficult time.
Warmest regards,
Jenny Betz
GLSEN Director of Education & Youth Programs
June 12, 2016

Last night at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Fla., a senseless attack on the LGBT community took place. With 50 reported killed and 52 injured, the tragedy is the worst mass shooting in recent United States history. We offer our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of those affected, and we are reminded of the urgent need to continue our work in schools to eliminate anti-LGBT bias and violence.

Please consider participating in one of these events across the country in remembrance of the victims of this tragedy. Additional updates and events can be found at www.weareorlando.org.

Phoenix, Ariz.
Phoenix Pride LGBT Center

7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Marina, Calif.
Epiphany Lutheran & Episcopal Church

6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Oakland, Calif.
Oscar Grant Plaza

8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 13

San Francisco, Calif.
Harvey Milk Plaza

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Fort Myers, Fla.
Centennial Park
7 p.m. on Saturday, June 18

Miami Beach, Fla.
Soundscape Park

7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

South Bend, Ind.
The LGBTQ Center

7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Sioux City, Iowa
First Unitarian Church

5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Wichita, Kan.
Pine Valley Christian Church

7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Louisville, Ky.
Big Four Bridge
8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Baton Rouge, La.
Live Oak Lounge - LSU Student Union

6:00 p.m. on Sunday, June  12

New Orleans, La.
800 Bourbon St.

9 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Baltimore, Md.
The Y Not Lot

7 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Bangor, Maine
Bangor City Hall
8:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Boston, Mass.
Parkman Bandstand Boston Common

6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State Capitol Building

6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Kansas City, Mo.
Barney Allis Plaza

6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Springfield, Mo.
The GLO Center
8 p.m. on Friday, June 17

Billings, Mont.
Grace United Methodist Church
6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Lincoln, Neb.
Nebraska State Capitol Building

8:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Omaha, Neb.
Dundee-Memorial Park

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Charleston, N.C.
The Connections Niteclub of Charleston

6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Raleigh, N.C.
Legends Nightclub Complex

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Wilmington, N.C.
Costello's Piano Bar

7:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Albany, N.Y.
West Capitol Park

6 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Bay Shore, N.Y.
LGBT Network

7 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Bellmore, N.Y.
Pride for Youth

6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13

New York, N.Y.
The Stonewall Inn

6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

New York, N.Y.
Union Square

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

New York, N.Y.
The Stonewall Inn

7 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Staten Island, N.Y.
Staten Island Borough Hall

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Jack Devito Memorial Field

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Cincinnati, Ohio
UC Quad Lawn
12 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Cleveland, Ohio
Free Stamp Park

6 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Dayton, Ohio
Therapy Cafe
8 p.m. on Friday, June 17

Toledo, Ohio
One Government Center

6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14

Nashville, Tenn.
Public Square Park

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Austin, Texas
Texas Capitol Building

7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12

Houston, Texas
Hermann Park

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 

Marfa, Texas
Presidio County Courthouse

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 

Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City and County Building

7 p.m. on Monday, June 13

Seattle, Wash.
Cal Anderson Park

8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12 

 

June 07, 2016

Basketball is a sport that I hold near and dear to my heart. Born and raised in the hometown of five-time NBA championship winners, the San Antonio Spurs, I played for several years and found a sense of comfort in the game that I couldn't really find anywhere else. When I was on the court, it was like the world stopped. I felt like I was home. I could forget all my other responsibilities, and I could just focus on something that I loved very much.

As I got older, I stopped playing basketball and focused on my advocacy work. I wanted to make school a safer and more affirming place for youth, regardless of how they identified or expressed themselves, so I started working with GLSEN and improved the GSA at my school. Things were starting to look pretty good. Everywhere seemed to be a safe space, until I realized I forgot the one place I used to call home: the basketball court.

I started hearing from people that players on the basketball team were making transphobic remarks. This really hit me hard; it made me infuriated. When I was on the team, I heard slightly homophobic remarks, but it sounded like the harassment of LGBTQ students had risen to another level. Now, I’m doing my best to spread the message of respect—treat others how you wish to be treated—not just in the classroom, but also on the court.

I’m so excited that others now have the opportunity to help spread the message of respect by wearing an NBA Pride shirt. It would mean the world to me to see people wearing these shirts, which were just released for LGBT Pride Month with proceeds benefiting GLSEN’s work. It would give me a whole lot of hope because I’d see people sending the message that respect for the LGBTQ community really does belong on the basketball court.

I would like to not only praise but also thank the NBA and their partner Teespring for taking initiative and helping make my former home more of a home by offering these shirts. Oftentimes, I would think that the court was a place to just drop anything and everything LGBTQ, but now I have a greater sense of hope that the court will be a safer space not only for me and other youth but for athletes and fans everywhere.

Ezra Morales is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.

Pride shirts for every NBA team are available for purchase here. All proceeds benefit GLSEN.

 

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