January 04, 2015
In an article by the The Hollywood Reporter, film director Brett Ratner announced that he was stepping down from producing the 84th Academy Awards after coming under fire for using anti-gay slurs in a recent screening of "Tower Heist."
Ratner was participating a Q&A session for his upcoming film when he responded to a question about rehearsals from an audience member saying, "Rehearsal? What's that? Rehearsal's for fags."
GLSEN intimately knows the damaging effects of anti-gay slurs and they can often be heard in school hallways, cafeterias, cafeterias or the locker room.
According to the 2009 GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 72.4% of students reported they heard homophobic remarks like "dyke" or "faggot" frequently or often at school.
The 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students also found that at school nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the past year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.
Ratner's homophobic comment quickly gained widespread attention causing a flurry of criticism and resulting in Ratner's resignation as producer of the Academy Awards.
The film director wrote in a public statement:
So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn’t count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I’ve so foolishly perpetuated.
Brett Ratner called Tom Sherak, the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to announce his resignation from the awards show.
In response, Sherak said in a brief statement:
"He did the right thing for the Academy and for himself. Words have meaning, and they have consequences. Brett is a good person, but his comments were unacceptable. We all hope this will be an opportunity to raise awareness about the harm that is caused by reckless and insensitive remarks, regardless of the intent."
This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in America’s schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents; their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior.
Have you heard any anti-LGBT remarks or experienced harassment because of your sexual orientation or gender identity? Let us know!
January 04, 2015
Blog Post on Michigan by Alison Gill, Public Policy Manager
Michigan has been deeply divided over the issue of anti-bullying legislation for more than 10 years. As one of only three states that have failed to enact any sort of anti-bullying protection for students, Michigan lacks vital legal protections which have been shown to make schools safer for all students. The main issue which has held up passage of an anti-bullying bill is whether or not the bill should include enumeration, or a specific listing of characteristics that are frequently the subject of bullying and harassment, such as race, disability, and sexual orientation.
Why is this such a hurdle? Well it isn’t a conflict about the best way to protect students. Research has continually shown that enumeration in anti-bullying laws is critical to ensure that all students are protected from bullying and harassment. Students who attend schools with policies that enumerate categories report less bullying and harassment, less absenteeism due to feeling unsafe, more teacher intervention, and greater reporting of incidents when they do occur. Enumeration provides teachers and other educators the tools they need to implement anti-bullying and harassment policies, which makes it easier for them to prevent bullying and intervene when incidents occur. So research shows its necessary, educators agree its necessary, and common sense demonstrates it’s necessary to name the behavior that you wish to prevent.
So why is it controversial to provide specific protection? The answer is simple: Because it might benefit LGBT students. Certain lawmakers would rather provide completely ineffective protections than specifically articulate that LGBT students should not be bullied.
Never has this been demonstrated so clearly as this week when the Michigan Senate passed SB 137, cruelly named “Matt’s Safe Schools Law.” While we had been expecting them to move forward with a generic, nonenumerated bill for some time, the bill the Michigan Senate actually passed is far worse. It actually creates an exception to the prohibitions based on “sincerely held religious belief(s) or moral conviction(s).” In other words, bullying is not allowed, unless you have a “religious” reason for doing so.
Let me ask you this: What possible religious reason could you have for tormenting another student?
A “religious” right to torture other students is not only unacceptable, it is absurd. Lawmakers, educators, even the father whose son this bill was named for have spoken out against this measure. Now Michigan House of Representatives needs to hear from you—Please, if you live in Michigan, call your representative and tell them not to support this terrible bill.
January 04, 2015
"I'm especially thrilled that we are going to be able to raise money for my charity of choice this year, GLSEN - the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network. Their vital work is helping youth all over America! Buying some fierce shoes can do a lot of good too, and that's gonna make this holiday season truly faboosh!"
In addition, ShoeDazzle is presenting a further fundraising opportunity to first time clients, Perez Hilton fans and GLSEN supporters: $5 from any first time purchase on ShoeDazzle.com using the code PEREZ at checkout, beginning October 24 – November 15, will be donated to GLSEN as well.
ShoeDazzle is a leading online fashion brand delivering personalized monthly shoe, handbag and jewelry selections to members by its team of top celebrity stylists. The company, which was founded by Brian Lee, Robert Shapiro, MJ Eng, and Kim Kardashian, who serves as the site’s Chief Fashion Stylist, was launched in March 2009 and now boasts over one and a half million Facebook fans.
January 04, 2015
Nearly half a century ago, Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in a schoolhouse door and told U.S. Justice Department officials that his state Constitution forbade two black students from entering. With a little coaxing from the National Guard, Governor Wallace stood down and the students were admitted.
Today, Governor Robert Bentley symbolically stands in front of school doors across the state telling thousands of students that they, too, are unwelcome in Alabama schools, this time because of their immigration status.
Time and time again, courts have found that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government final authority over immigration matters in this country. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot deny a free public education to undocumented immigrants.
Yet earlier this year, Alabama passed the so-called Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, ordering school officials to track the immigration status of students and their parents. On September 29, when a federal judge allowed the law to go into effect, over 2,000 Alabama students were pulled out of school overnight.
Parents feared that school administrators and employees would suddenly act as immigration agents resulting in the exodus.
Fortunately, a federal judge has temporarily enjoined the portion of the Beason-Hammon Act which would require public schools to determine the immigration status of students, but several other equally damaging aspects of the law remain in effect.
In the wake of the Beason-Hammon Act coming into effect, the U.S. Justice Department Justice Department officials are monitoring for bullying incidents linked to the law. According to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, the Department has heard a number of reports of increases in bullying across Alabama.
Ironically, efforts are currently being made to pass an enumerated anti-bullying bill in Alabama that would protect students from bullying, harassment, and intimidation based on race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. GLSEN strongly supports these efforts and commends Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd on the introduction of this bill.
At the same time, it is very unfortunate that the Beason-Hammon Act is countering efforts to make Alabama schools safer.
What all children—regardless of immigration status—need to succeed is an education in a safe and supportive environment. Over time, this nation has made a great deal of progress toward making sure each child receives just that. It is unfortunate that Alabama lawmakers would try to impede that progress.
One can only hope that this president’s Justice Department has the same success that President Kennedy’s did forty-eight years ago, and that 2,000 children in Alabama will be able to return to school.
January 04, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Chase Stein is a GLSEN Student Ambassador recently profiled for leading safer schools organizing efforts in Southeast Michigan. Chase is noted for spearheading an exciting new project in the region.
The Breaking the Silence Initiative is a service learning project that will target the reduction of bullying and the improvement of school climate for K - 12 students by training a core group of youth representatives to develop and implement experiential anti-bullying lessons. We will not only be visiting schools in person, we will also create multimedia and social media campaigns that provide opportunities for student advocacy and leadership within our region while making our message available nationwide.
January 04, 2015
Have you started planning for Ally Week yet?
- Register: Click here to register your participation. If you're one of the first few thousand, you'll get some free materials to support your participation.
- Gather Information: Find resources to help you start your planning on www.allyweek.org.
- Find Support: Discuss your participation with the advisor of your GSA or student club, or another trusted faculty member. It’s a good idea to print out resources from www.allyweek.org to give to potential supportive faculty.
- Get Permission: Your Ally Week is likely to be more successful if the school approves of your activities. Research and follow the proper protocol for approving an activity at your school. Ask your supportive staff member to help.
- Build a Team: Find peers who want to contribute. Talk to members of your GSA and/or other allies. Tell them about Ally Week and ask if they would be interested in getting involved. Make sure to check out the resources about building coalitions at www.allyweek.org.
- Schedule for next week: Make sure to schedule a Team meeting with your supportive faculty member and interested students for the upcoming week to keep making progress!
January 04, 2015
Take the GSA Census 2011 and let your GSA’s participation and needs in the safe schools movement be heard!
How many GSAs exist in the country? What do GSAs do? What do GSAs need?
We want to know and we need YOUR help!
• The first 2,000 GSAs to take the GSA Census will receive a packet of free GLSEN organizing materials
• All GSA Census participants will be entered in a raffle to win a www.glsenstore.org gift certificate
All GSA students and advisors/sponsors are welcome to take the GSA Census. The GSA Census defines GSA as an umbrella term used to refer to all student clubs that bring LGBT youth and allies together to work on creating safe and inclusive school environments (e.g., Gay-Straight Alliance, Gay-Straight-Transgender Alliance, Queer-Straight Alliance, Rainbow Club).
January 04, 2015
"Although we do not agree with the sentiments expressed on Ms. Knox's personal Facebook page, her comments are protected by the First Amendment. The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech."
January 04, 2015
>With less than 2 weeks to go, GLSEN is busy preparing for the Respect Awards - Los Angeles taking place on Friday, October 21. This special evening will raise crucial funds to support our life-changing work to create safer schools for every student regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
- Michele and Rob Reiner will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award;
- Wells Fargo (on behalf of Patricia Callahan) will accept the Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award;
- Rick Welts will accept the Inspiration Award;
- Chaz Bono will accept the Hero Award and;
- GLSEN will soon be announcing our Student Advocate of the Year!
January 04, 2015
Guest blog post by Noel Gordon, Michigan student and former GLSEN Public Policy Intern
The Michigan Senate is poised to take a vote on legislation intended to curb school bullying and harassment. Just last week, it was reported that lawmakers laughingly refused to even consider anti-bullying protections. Elected officials, students, and advocates remained in the Capitol all night to protest this outrageous behavior. The fact that an anti-bullying bill (SB 137) is being considered at all would be reason to celebrate, especially during National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. But only if the bill in question were actually worth supporting.
Here's why: SB 45, in its current form, lacks important reporting requirements and fails to provide clear, unambiguous protections to student populations most often targeted for bullying and harassment. This includes students of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, two communities who struggles I know all too well.
A reporting requirement would be extremely helpful to capture the real experiences of LGBT students. Findings from the 2009 GLSEN National School Climate Survey revealed the kind of bullying Michigan’s LGBT students endure on a daily basis. You can read the GLSEN Michigan Research Brief here.
As a Michigan student, I am embarrassed by the fact that our legislature has yet to get a comprehensive anti-bullying bill through the legislature and to the Governor’s desk. This debate has been going on for 13 years. That’s 13 years too long for many students who continue to have their lives ruined because of our inaction.
It’s time for Michigan legislators to get serious and pass a bill that would actually address these two issues. Our state is in need of legislation that will protect students from harassment and discrimination. Michigan is one of only three states without any sort of anti-bullying law on the books.
You can learn more about what states currently have passed safer schools legislation inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity by clicking here.
Including enumerated categories of protection – such as race, class, religion, disability and sex – should be a point of consensus among Michigan senators, not contention. Comprehensive anti-bullying policies ensure that all Michigan students are protected equally in school. In fact, students in school with enumerated anti-bullying policies report less incidents of bullying and harassment overall. They also report feeling safer at school. You can read more about these findings in the 2009 GLSEN National School Climate Survey.
Michigan legislators should be doing everything they can to help make schools a safer place for all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We should be setting an example for our students, not lagging so far behind.
This isn’t a Republican issue. Nor is it a Democratic issue. It’s about education and the future success of every Michigan student, which is quite frankly, no laughing matter.