"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."
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).
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!
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.
"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.
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.
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!
>Have you and all your friends registered? Whether you're going to be silent all day or just at lunch hour register your DOS observance at our sister site: StudentOrganizing.org.
Why register? Every person who registers with GLSEN's Student Organizing site shows that they are committed to safe schools. That number is an important way to demonstrate the great impact that the Day of Silence has in schools and communities across the country. It only takes a few moments to sign up and be counted and your registration can make a big difference.
As of today the Day of Silence will be observed in nearly 4000 schools April 17th. But we're still two weeks away. Let's get that number a whole lot higher.
Remember: Don’t just participate, REGISTER!
Here at GLSEN, we're always looking for the next big way to get the word out about the amazing work we do. Our newest tool is called a Spark, and it looks like this:
The Spark is an awesome way for us to highlight our work in a way that compels people to take action, which is always super important! GLSEN couldn't make such a big difference without an energized supporter base working hard across the country. This could not have come at a better time, as GLSEN is now in the running to win $1 million in the Chase American Giving Awards! Through the widget, you can watch a video where Eliza describes GLSEN's important work, follow our Twitter feed, sign up for our email list, and vote for us in the Chase American Giving Awards. There are a ton of easy ways you can help make schools safer for LGBT students by using this Spark! You can embed the player on your personal website, blog or Tumblr by clicking on the "Share" button on the Spark and copying the embed code. You can also add the Spark to your Facebook or Twitter by clicking on their respective buttons. If you haven't yet, you can always vote for GLSEN on Chase's Facebook page, and Chase card holders can vote a second time at ChaseGiving.com. This last part is super exciting: you only have to embed the Spark once to get constantly updated content from GLSEN. After the Chase Awards end, we'll be updated the Spark with new content and new calls to action on a regular basis, without you having to do a thing! Please share this cool new tool with your friends, and let's keeping working to make safe schools for ALL students in America.
When the lights came back on after GLSEN's screening of How to Survive a Plague last month, everyone in the room knew they'd seen a special film. We weren't the only ones impressed, apparently, as the movie received an Oscar nomination today for Best Documentary. How to Survive a Plague is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, and I couldn't be more excited to see it receive national recognition. The film follows two coalitions, ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), through the HIV/AIDS crisis during the late '80s and early '90s. The groups used political activism and civil disobedience to help shift AIDS from a near-certain death sentence to a manageable, but still serious, disease. Eliza Byard, our executive director, noted the connection between the atmosphere of the era and the birth of GLSEN: "My mother attended a founding meeting for GLSEN's New York City chapter at the time," she said, "walking through one of the very ACT UP meetings depicted in the film to a boiler room off the back where Kevin Jennings was greeting volunteers." How to Survive a Plague will compete with 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, The Invisible War, and Searching for Sugar Man for the award. If you're interested in other documentaries about the HIV/AIDS crisis, check out We Were Here, which focuses on San Francisco, and 30 Years From Here, which reflects on three decades of HIV/AIDS in the US. Congratulations again to the director/producer David France and everyone else connected with the film!