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November 09, 2016
Dear GLSEN family,
I won’t try to sugarcoat this: what happened yesterday is not ok. LGBTQ youth face losing the federal civil rights protections provided by the Obama administration, like the Title IX guidance. Any hope of passing federal LGBTQ-inclusive legislation in the next few years is gone. And our Supreme Court may well be packed with justices who will challenge our work to create LGBTQ-inclusive schools for decades to come.
While we can’t go back and change the outcome of this election, we will not sit silently by and watch the progress we’ve made on LGBTQ issues be destroyed.
We have seen tremendous progress in recent years, such as California’s passage of legislation requiring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and Michigan’s guidelines for transgender-inclusive accommodations in all schools. We have seen district and school leaders in Tennessee and Kentucky stand up for all students, even in a hostile political climate. And we have raised the profile of LGBTQ issues in education.
We have certainly hit a roadblock, but our momentum will not be stopped. And the momentum we’ve seen is because of you. It’s because of local communities, school districts, and state coalitions coming together to demand change. We must renew our support for local organizing, advocacy, and progress, even in the face of stronger political opposition and the loss of civil rights champions at the federal level.
Today, LGBTQ students across the country return to classes with a bully elected President, and educators will resume the difficult task of supporting them and ensuring future generations don’t make these same mistakes. As we face newly empowered opposition, your partnership has never been more important.
Thank you for continuing to work with GLSEN as allies in our mission to create a world in which diversity is valued and celebrated. Together, we are part of a national movement to support and affirm every person in every K-12 school. We must come together, support one another, show up for one another, and speak out for one another.
William Sloan Coffin said it best: "The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love." We will fight for the truth together. We will love one another to share our strength. And an army of lovers shall not fail.
November 04, 2016
This is a historic political moment, with a high-stakes election only days away. And it's a moment for all of us to renew our commitment to LGBTQ youth and pledge to support them. It's a time to make history.
Last month was LGBT History Month, and we asked folks to add their names to the history books by pledging to support LGBTQ students. Hundreds took the pledge, and we've compiled their names in GLSEN's LGBT History eBook, published below to acknowledge all those who chose to be recognized publicly for their support.
It's not too late to add your name.
Join those who have taken the pledge, and make sure to check the box to receive policy updates from GLSEN. You'll receive opportunities to take action and truly make history for LGBTQ students!
November 03, 2016
Photo by Wunmi Onibudo
This summer, Levi's gifted GLSEN's National Student Council, our student leadership team, with custom trucker jackets, and the gift sparked an idea: What if everyone had their own Respect-wear apparel or accessories?
Last month, folks all over the country created their own clothing that they thought embodied respect, and they shared their designs using #GLSENinLevis on Instagram. Five lucky Respect-wear designers created clothes that just glistened -- and so they're each winning their own custom Levi's trucker jacket!
It's not too late to create your own Respect-wear! You can purchase GLSEN Respect and Golden E patches, or a limited-edition Levi's trucker jacket, sold at an elevated price point with all proceeds benefitting GLSEN's work to create safe and affirming schools!
Here are the top 5 designs.
So, a while back, @call_me.sir gave me this shirt. We picked up a few patches on some of our dates and we put them on here. :) I love this thing to bits and pieces. So when I heard about the #glseninlevis thing, I was super stoked to be able to add something of my own to this jacket. -dino patch: Houston Museum of natural science -eyeball patch: Delta h con -defense against the dark arts patch: comicpalooza -skylab patch: Johnson space center __ #lgbt #glsen #embroidery #myhandshurt #patch #patches
October 28, 2016
This month was the 10th annual National Bullying Prevention Month, which provides an opportunity for the school community to come together to raise awareness of bullying and harassment.
The bad news? According to our new report, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers, an astounding 92 percent of students reported that their peers are bullied, called names or harassed at school based on their personal characteristics. Most commonly, students noted that other students are often harassed due to their appearance, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, academic ability and how they express their gender – a trend that has persisted over the last decade. And although students’ reports of some types of bullying have decreased, in 2015 students were more likely to report that their peers are bullied due to their race/ethnicity, academic ability and religion than they were in 2005.
— GLSEN (@GLSEN) October 3, 2016
Students’ own reports of their experiences of bullying in school are also concerning. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of middle and high school students reported being bullied or harassed themselves during the past school year. For example, 51 percent of students reported being verbally harassed due to their appearance and 29 percent reported being sexually harassed.
Unfortunately, we continue to see disparities in bullying and harassment and in the educational outcomes they are likely to affect. LGBTQ students experienced more victimization based on sexual orientation, gender expression, gender, appearance and disability, and gender nonconforming students experienced greater frequency of all types of victimization. Not surprisingly, female students faced higher rates of sexual harassment, and students of color faced higher rates of victimization based on their race or ethnicity. These higher levels of bullying were related to poorer educational outcomes, including lower educational aspirations, more school discipline and greater absenteeism.
The good news? The portion of students reporting that their peers are bullied due to their appearance or actual or perceived sexual orientation has decreased over the last ten years (although these types of bullying are still extremely prevalent). It’s also good news that both GSAs and inclusive policies have been on the rise over the last ten years, and most teachers already receive training on bullying (although less than half of students attend schools with GSAs or inclusive policies, and most educators do not receive effective training that incorporates LGBTQ issues).
Luckily, there are effective strategies to reduce bias-based bullying and harassment in schools:
- Enacting and implementing inclusive anti-bullying policies that clearly include race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, among others, as protected categories (check out GLSEN’s model policies);
- Providing educators with effective professional development that incorporates meaningful content on bias-based bullying and the tools to teach in LGBT-inclusive ways;
- Supporting the development of student clubs, such as GSAs, which often help to mobilize students against multiple types of bias and make LGBTQ students feel safer and more welcome at school;
- Regularly assessing school climate and the pervasiveness of bullying and bias, such as through GLSEN’s Local School Climate Survey, an online tool to develop and administer customized surveys to your local school community.
Due in part to campaigns like National Bullying Prevention Month, what was once seen as a rite of passage for students is now understood as a widespread problem with lasting consequences. However, it is time we turn this understanding into action and offer the school community the supports essential to creating safe and affirming educational experiences. And by doing so, we’ll ensure that all students have access to an education that allows them to learn in the most supportive environment possible – and that is the best news of all.
Christian Villenas, PhD, is the Senior Research Associate at GLSEN.
October 28, 2016
In 1994, a history teacher, Rodney Wilson, with support from GLSEN and others, started LGBT History Month to honor the achievements of LGBTQ people and to bring these important figures into the classroom. In 2016, LGBT History Month continues to highlight a population that remains all too invisible, particularly in our nation’s schools.
In our recently released research, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, A Survey of U.S. Secondary School Students and Teachers, only 21 percent of students report learning about LGBT-related topics in their classes.
When students do learn about LGBT-related topics, it’s most commonly in their history/social studies classes and English classes. Unfortunately, while history/social studies and English teachers are the most likely teachers to incorporate LGBT topics into their curriculum, only around a quarter report doing so (26 percent of history/social studies teachers and 23 percent of English teachers). These teachers are also more likely to engage in other LGBTQ-supportive practices, such as displaying signs of support such as Safe Space stickers, advocating for inclusive policies or advising a GSA.
LGBT-inclusive curriculum can send a message to all students that LGBTQ people are respected and valued in our society, and our research shows that it may be particularly beneficial for LGBTQ students. LGBTQ students in schools with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum reported that they experienced less LGBT-related peer victimization. We also know from our National School Climate Survey that LGBTQ students in schools with an inclusive curriculum feel safer and more connected to their school community.
For LGBT History Month and beyond, GLSEN has a host of resources for including LGBTQ history in the curriculum. And while history teachers might have the most obvious opportunities to incorporate LGBTQ history into their lesson plans, there are ways for teachers of all subject areas to teach in LGBT-inclusive ways. For example, math and science teachers could discuss Alan Turing who, today, is considered the father of the modern-day computer, but was arrested and punished for his sexual orientation in the 1950s. Physical education teachers could note the relevance of Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL, showcasing the support of other athletes as a model of true teamwork. There are many other LGBTQ icons that could be acknowledged in the classrooms of any teacher, including Reinaldo Arenas, an openly gay Cuban poet; Jeanne Cordova, an American pioneering lesbian and gay rights activist; and Leslie Feinberg, an American transgender activist and author.
But remember, it’s not enough just to celebrate renowned LGBTQ people or commemorate key historical events. Teachers should be visibly supportive of LGBTQ students, use LGBTQ-inclusive language, and integrate LGBTQ people and issues into their teaching throughout the year. GLSEN’s LGBT-inclusive lesson plans are a great place to look.
Noreen Giga is the Research Associate at GLSEN.
October 26, 2016
Happy LGBT History Month! There are so many LGBTQ folks who have made their mark on history. Unfortunately, many of them have gone without credit. Few are mentioned in mainstream history books, and when they are, their sexuality and gender identity are often excluded.
In 2012, California became the first state to require schools to have an LGBT-inclusive social studies curriculum, which is a huge step. GLSEN research shows that for LGBTQ students, being taught LGBT-related topics is related to lower levels of LGBT-related victimization.
While we recognize this triumph for California, the other 49 states and Washington, D.C., still need to follow suit. In the meanwhile, here are six LGBTQ history makers I wish were in my history books. You can incorporate them in your school curriculum or next GSA meeting! GLSEN also has a host of other resources to include LGBTQ history in the classroom.
1. Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Bayard Rustin was a civil-rights activist and an openly gay man. In 1944, he refused to register for the draft for World War II and was jailed for 26 months. Later, he became an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Even after the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, he continued his activism for LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, though, his presence in history is often erased.
2. Alan Turing (1912-1954)
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Alan Turing was a British mathematical genius who laid the groundwork for artificial intelligence. He studied math and cryptology, and in World War II, he was a major player in breaking codes used by the Germans. He was also gay, which was illegal in England at the time, and he was charged with gross indecency when the police found out. When he died, it was ruled suicide by cyanide poisoning, but now some historians think it might have been accidental. In 2009, the British government formally apologized to Alan Turing for how they treated him.
3. Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Photo Source: Wikipedia
Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson was a transgender woman and an activist who regularly went to Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York that was often raided by police in the 60s. During a police raid on June 28, 1969, the people in the bar fought back, with Marsha at the helm, which many say sparked the modern LGBTQ rights movement. In 1970, she co-founded STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, a trans rights group and a shelter for homeless trans teens. Marsha died in 1992 under mysterious circumstances, and the case is still unsolved.
4. Harvey Milk (1930-1978)
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and was one of the first openly gay men to be elected to political office. As a young man, he served in the Navy and later got involved in the LGBTQ rights movement. One of the board members resigned from the board and then shot both Harvey Milk and the mayor. Milk’s legacy lives on, though, and in 2016, the Navy announced that a tanker ship would be named in his honor, the USNS Harvey Milk.
5. Sally Ride (1951-2012)
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Sally Ride was an astronaut and astrophysicist and in 1983 was the first American woman in space with NASA. She taught at University of California-San Diego and started a company called Sally Ride Science to inspire girls to pursue science and math. She died of pancreatic cancer in 2012, and after she died, it became public that she was lesbian and had been in a long-term relationship with another woman. She has inspired many others to follow in her footsteps.
Yes, you have the power to make history as an advocate for LGBTQ students, and I hope one day to be reading in my history book about your work to make schools safe and affirming for all students.
But right now, in this historic political moment, you can add your name to the history books by pledging to support LGBTQ students with GLSEN. When you add your name, be sure to check the box to indicate that you’d like to receive policy updates, which will give you opportunities to truly make history for LGBTQ students across the country. Then, at the end of the month, GLSEN will recognize you in a special LGBT History eBook!
Drew Adams is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.
October 14, 2016
As Latinx Heritage Month comes to a close, we asked GLSEN’s National Student Council, our national leadership team of LGBTQ student activists, about the LGBTQ Latinx people who they think should be in every LGBT-inclusive curriculum. Below are the students’ own words about these heroes, who are deeply connected to their communities and who have worked within movements to make change.
1. Jennicet Gutierez
Photo Source: Twitter
“Jennicet Gutierez is the transgender activist who interrupted President Obama at a White House event for LGBT Pride Month this year to demand an end to the deportation of LGBTQ immigrants. She has been a huge inspiration for me. She and the rest of Familia: TQLM are incredible activists, and I truly look up to them.” –Emme
2. Denice Froham
Photo Source: denisefroham.com
“Denice Frohman is a queer spoken-word artist. She writes about her struggles as a queer minority and is a part of many LGBTQ Latinx organizations. She won Women of the World Slam Poetry in 2013, the same year she won Creative Artist of the Year at the Hispanic Choice Awards.” –Miguel
3. Frida Kahlo
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
“A bisexual Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo is literally me, but way more of a badass. She has inspired me to love myself as a hairy brown Mexican and bisexual woman. Her art pushes me to keep trying with my own, and the way she broke traditional gender roles has me feel more comfortable with the way that I am. Keeps me going every day.” –Ellie
4. Julio Salgado
Photo Source: juliosalgadoart.com
“Julio Salgado is so so so so so so incredible. He has transformed a highly marginalized intersectional identity into a platform for empathy and activism. He is queer and undocumented, and as a filmmaker, he uses his art to shine light on important issues related to undocumented LGBTQ life. His works enable people to realize they are not alone while also influencing political and cultural thought.” –Matt
5. Juan Gabriel
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
“Singer and songwriter Juan Gabriel, who recently passed away, was unapologetically flamboyant and Mexican. He had so much pride in his culture and never gave in to the macho-man ideals of traditional Mexican society. He got called some of the nastiest names ever during his lifetime because of the way that he chose to express himself. But he was passionate about the music that he made. He never stopped performing. He made me comfortable with myself and inspired me to exist as loudly as possible. He had a heart of gold, and honestly he will never stop being my hero for that.” –Ellie
For Latinx Heritage Month, GLSEN also has resources for you to use in your school curriculum or next GSA meeting. How will you continue to incorporate Latinx heritage into your classroom?
September 28, 2016
Today, GLSEN released From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, a survey of secondary school students and teachers about the current landscape of bias and peer victimization in school.
Unfortunately, according to the report, almost three-quarters (74 percent) of middle and high school students experienced some type of peer victimization in the past school year, and over half (51 percent) of teachers believe that bullying is a significant problem at school.
The report goes into depth about student experiences with many types of bias, including based on race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, body size, gender, religion, ability, economic status, and gender expression. The report also examines how teachers intervene in incidents of bias and what training teachers receive, with a close look at LGBTQ issues in particular.
Read the executive summary and download the report and register for GLSEN’s free webinar on the report’s findings, to be held 3-4:30 p.m. ET October 4. In the coming weeks, GLSEN researchers will share more about the report’s specific findings on this blog.
Here are 4 findings from the report.
September 27, 2016
Identifying outside the gender binary
By Miguel Johnson
Being non-binary means identifying as a gender other than exclusively male or female. As a person who identifies as non-binary — in particular, as genderfluid, which means that my gender varies over time — I struggle when people try to put me into boxes that I simply don’t fit into. People either want me to behave how they feel a boy should (i.e. hyper-masculine all the time), or they want me to shut up, be “girly” and obsess over makeup and gossip. They won’t allow me to be a little bit of both.
At school, I feel as if I have to choose between being myself and being safe and accepted. Oftentimes, I see other members of the LGBTQ community bash non-binary people, especially in classrooms and on social media.
Being non-binary can be especially difficult when it comes to gendered spaces, like bathrooms. As a non-binary person, I have to think about what bathroom everyone expects me to use, whereas binary people don’t have to worry about this. Being able to use the bathroom safely is a luxury that I simply do not have.
#MyAllies recognize their privilege and help to make me feel safe at school.
Recognizing my privilege within the gender binary
By Drew Adams
I identify as a transgender male, so I identify as one of the two binary genders. The truth is, being binary is a huge privilege. In general, our culture only recognizes two genders, guys and girls. Bathrooms, toys, clothing sections, deodorant scents, hair and skin products — so much in our society is gendered.
This is especially true in our schools. In so many cases, non-binary students are forced to use gendered bathrooms, since there is no gender-neutral alternative. Also, a lot of teachers still use the “girls on one side, boys on the other side” method to split the class into groups. I can’t begin to imagine how non-binary students must feel in those situations.
But as an ally to non-binary students, I have to recognize my privilege. In my position of privilege, I always try to challenge traditional gender roles and the idea that there are only two genders. I also do my best to respect gender-neutral pronouns, like they and them. In general, I have to be supportive and accepting.
Miguel Johnson and Drew Adams are members of GLSEN’s National Student Council.
Photos by Wunmi Onibudo.
September 26, 2016
In honor of Bi Week, GLSEN and bisexual youth across the country took part in a Twitter chat last Friday, Bisexual Visibility Day, to discuss bisexual student experiences. The chat topped off a week of celebrating bisexuality through #ILoveBIself, a campaign created by GLSEN's National Student Council dedicated to highlighting issues facing bisexual youth, promoting self-care and working to erase biphobia.
Before, during and after the Twitter chat, bisexual youth shared their truth.
#ILoveBiself bc life is a lot more enjoyable when I live in my truth, rather than being closeted + miserable. I have no shame in my identity
— it's ya boi alex!! ♂ (@chill_achillean) September 24, 2016
#ILoveBIself because love is a beautiful thing with no room for shame or fear!
— Julia Wilde (@Julia_SCI) September 24, 2016
I love BIself because: my sexuality is valid and I don't have to prove anything to anyone #ilovebiself
— Bexx (@bexsquared) September 24, 2016
#ILoveBIself because there's no other thing to do but be myself! Living openly is a freeing experience that I can't live without.
— Keress Weidner (@rose_enby) September 24, 2016
I am a strong brown genderfluid and bisexual human being and I. AM. VALID. https://t.co/LQ3op8K2o5
— agua de coco (@wokemom) September 24, 2016
#ILoveBiself even though sometimes it seems like the rest of the world doesn't! My identity is whole and valid just like everyone else's !!
— rowan little (@catsharkmeme) September 19, 2016
They discussed how schools can be more affirming and inclusive of bi youth.
Welcome Bi people into GSAs. Understanding and loving and listening to us, and letting us be who we are without criticism #ILoveBIself
— emme (@dykeotomies) September 23, 2016
— katie (@kt_morelikeqt) September 23, 2016
(1) TEACH ABOUT US IN CLASS! We shouldn't be erased from history + health textbooks anymore! When you see yourself in textbooks #ILoveBiself
— Madison (@mmiszki) September 23, 2016
(2) you're more likely to believe that you CAN make a change #ILoveBiself
— Madison (@mmiszki) September 23, 2016
And so much more. Check out the hashtag #ILoveBiself on Twitter to read what else these incredible activists had to say.
#ilovebiself is the hashtag i've been waiting for all my life
— broccoli wilkinson (@PookiePookison) September 21, 2016
#ilovebiself is the best hashtag of 2016
— Aquí Estamos (@aquiestamosrgv) September 24, 2016
#ILoveBiSelf this hashtag is so beautiful ! I love it so much !
— Livi (@Livi_Burke) September 24, 2016
I'm not crying at bi youth tweeting under #ILoveBiSelf, you are.
— Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz) September 24, 2016