January 04, 2015

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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 focuses on the following:

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.

The initiative is a part of the local GLSEN chapter in Southeast Michigan. Chase serves as the chapter's youth coordinator responsible for coordinating training and workshops for other student leaders.
Chase co-wrote the grant that earned the GLSEN chapter $28,000 in funding from the State Farm Youth Advisory to underwrite the initiative's activities. The Board was established in 2006 and has funded more than $16.9 Million to youth-led service-learning projects. State Farm estimates its funding has affected an estimated 10.1 million people.
In addition to co-organizing a 1-day summit, the GLSEN chapter will select 12 local high-school students to serve in leadership roles. These student leaders will then lead local teams to conduct anti-bullying workshops throughout the area.
Congratulations to Chase and everyone a part of these organizing efforts in Southeast Michigan!

January 04, 2015

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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

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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

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This morning, The Star Ledger reported that school officials in Union Township were investigating allegations that a Union High School teacher posted disparaging remarks on her Facebook page about a school display recognizing LGBT History Month.

Garden State Equality obtained a copy of the Facebook thread where the teacher allegedly stated, "Homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation."

You can read the full text here.

GLSEN in collaboration with The Anti-Defamation League and StoryCorps developed Unheard Voices, a LGBT History Resource for schools to use throughout the month. You can view the complete resource containing oral history clips and lesson plans here.

The teacher's posts on her Facebook page have drawn criticism from the local community.

The ACLU of New Jersey issued a statement:

"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."

Events like LGBT History Month serve as valuable learning opportunities for students and they have shown to reduce bullying.
Findings from the GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey have confirmed the positive impact of inclusive curriculum and supportive educators.

GLSEN compiled a New Jersey Research Brief on the specific experiences of LGBT students in the Garden State.

Students in schools with LGBT-inclusive curriculum or resources in place heard fewer homophobic epithets (e.g., "faggot" or "dyke") than those without an inclusive curriculum.

Additionally, close to three-fourths (73.7%) of students with no supportive staff felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, but only 51.5% of students who had many supportive staff at their school felt unsafe.

Further research indicated that students with many supportive staff had a greater sense of being a part of their school community and resulted in higher grade point averages than other students (3.1 vs 2.7).


Resources exist to assist school staff in building a safer and respectful learning environment. The GLSEN Safe Space Kit and the GLSEN Lunchbox are two easy-to-use resources that are readily available to educators, administrators and staff.

Teachers serve as everyday role models for students to look to for help throughout their time in school. Every student should feel valued and safe regardless of their difference.

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.

In anticipation of the event, Entertainment Tonight ran a segment about our honorees on this evening's broadcast.
The entertainment news show also featured information about our charityBUZZ online auction where individuals can bid on amazing experiences to support our efforts nationwide. A complete listing of auction items can be found here.
Our 2011 honorees include:
  • 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!
To read complete bios of all the honorees visit our website here.

Stay tuned for more exciting details about this event as we quickly approach October 21. Information about our Student Advocate of the Year and a complete list of celebrities will be available soon.

Do you follow @GLSEN on Twitter? We will be tweeting throughout the Respect Awards so make sure to join us! Don't forget to use our hashtag #RespectLA throughout the night.


January 04, 2015

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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.

January 04, 2015

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On the Day of Silence starting at 3 PM EST we'll be hosting a Tweet Chat LIVE! Come and share your experiences with Day of Silence organizers from across the country. Also, a crew of GLSEN staff members will be available to answer your questions.

Participation is easy!

  • Click here to join the #DayofSilence Tweet Chat room.
  • Make sure to click "Sign in with Twitter" in the upper right corner.
  • Enter your Twitter login info.
  • Join the conversation!

We're excited to hear all of your Day of Silence stories!

January 04, 2015

>GUEST POST FROM THE ACLU:

Two things I’ve learned over the years that I’ve worked with LGBT students at the American Civil Liberties Union are that many school administrators and teachers don’t have the slightest clue about what their students’ legal rights are, and that a lot of the ones who do know go right ahead and violate students’ rights anyway because they think they can get away with it.

The only way to be sure that your school will respect and uphold your legal rights is for YOU to educate yourself about what your rights are and hold your school to its responsibility to protect and enforce them.

That’s never more true than during the Day of Silence, an annual event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling LGBT students often experience in school. Here are four things you need to know about your rights as you mark Day of Silence this year on Friday, April 15.

1. You DO have a right to participate in Day of Silence and other expressions of your opinion at a public school during non-instructional time: the breaks between classes, before and after the school day, lunchtime, and any other free times during your day. If your principal or a teacher tells you otherwise, you should contact our office or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

2. You do NOT have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. If you want to stay quiet during class on Day of Silence, we recommend that you talk with your teachers ahead of time, tell them that you plan to participate in Day of Silence and why it’s important to you, and ask them if it would be okay for you to communicate in class on that day in writing. Most teachers will probably say yes.

3. Your school is NOT required to "sponsor" Day of Silence.
But Day of Silence is rarely a school-sponsored activity to begin with – it’s almost always an activity led by students. So don't be confused - just because your school isn’t officially sponsoring or participating in Day of Silence doesn’t mean that you can’t participate.

4. Students who oppose Day of Silence DO have the right to express their views, too. Like you, they must do so in a civil, peaceful way and they only have a right to do so during non-instructional time. For example, they don’t have a right to skip school on Day of Silence without any consequences, just as you don't have a right to skip school just because you don’t like what they think or say.

If you’re concerned that your school might forbid you from participating in Day of Silence, you might want to print out the ACLU's "Letter to Educators about the Day of Silence" (2-page PDF) and give it to your school administrators. Tell them they should show the letter to the school’s lawyer. The letter explains what schools' responsibilities are regarding Day of Silence.

And for more information on your rights in public schools, check out the youth and schools section of the ACLU's website.

By Chris Hampton
Youth and Program Strategist
American Civil Liberties Union

LinkNote: If you’ve read the above and think your rights may being violated, let us know! We’ve partnered with Lambda Legal to provide speedy assistance if you’re facing resistance. Report it! and Lambda Legal will be in touch with you as soon as they can.

January 04, 2015

>Be silent
Talk
Wear red
Wear rainbow
Wear any color
Tweet the Silence
Silence your tweets
Blog the silence
Silence your blog

Whatever you do, be respectful, especially of others who are observing the Day of Silence, but bring attention to the issues of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harrasment in schools.

January 04, 2015

>Every year after the Day of Silence we tally up the numbers of participants and supporters to share with our donors and to highlight the importance of the work that GLSEN does. Don't you want to be counted?

Students (middle, high school and college) register here.

Adults - Support our students by signing the pledge.

Help us prove that people care about ending anti-LGBT bullying.

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