March 10, 2015
Transgender students’ rights are at a perilous crossroads in Kentucky. This month, the Kentucky Senate advanced Bill 76 (SB76), also known as the Kentucky Student Privacy Act, which would affect all transgender students who attend a public school in Kentucky.
SB76 would require all students to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-specific areas that match their sex assigned at birth, rather than their gender identity. Under the proposed legislation, students could seek special accommodations, such as a unisex bathroom or permission to use faculty bathrooms, although these accommodations are not required and may not be available at all schools. The bill is backed by State Senator C.B. Embry and The Family Foundation of Kentucky, a group whose mission claims that “the integrity of the traditional family is critically important for our culture’s survival.” SB76 was approved by the Senate Education Committee in a surprise secret vote one day after being voted down. The measure has passed through the Senate, and now heads to the State House of Representatives for approval.
Although the bill claims to be protecting privacy, it violates the rights and protections of transgender students who wish to identify as a gender that does not align with their sex. Furthermore, it puts transgender students in uncomfortable, and sometimes threatening, situations. A trans woman forced to use a men’s restroom (and vice versa) is often subject to verbal or even physical harassment.
When the bill was on the floor of the Senate, both proponents and opponents of the bill were able to speak out. Senator Mike Wilson, who spoke in favor of the bill, seemed to think those at risk were actually the cisgender students who would share a bathroom with a transgender student. He noted that the bill was about modesty and protecting minors: “I think as a parent, I don’t want that situation for my daughter.” Senator Gerald A. Neal disagreed, saying: “This is not about modesty. This is about fear."
GLSEN Student Ambassador Casey Hoke made a similar point in “I’m a Transgender Teen and Which Restroom I Use Is None of Your Business,” which was published on the Huffington Post. Casey noted, “When I and many other out transgender individuals use the restroom, we are there to take care of our business wherever we deem comfortable for our identities and expression. We're just like everyone else.” He later adds: “As long as private stalls are available, absolutely no one should suffer from ‘harm’ in the presence of a transgender person unless the person creates a threatening or harmful situation for the other people in the facility. That's bullying, and can come from anyone of any identity.”
Indeed, research shows that transgender youth experience some of the harshest school climates. Transgender students are more likely than their peers to be harassed or assaulted at school and to say they feel unsafe. Transgender girls or women are particularly likely to say they avoid locker rooms because they feel unsafe there. In addition, GLSEN’s research shows that more than half of transgender students nationwide had been required to use the bathroom or locker room of their sex rather than their gender identity. Large percentages had also been prevented from wearing clothing and using names and pronouns that aligned with their gender.
In Kentucky, according to GLSEN’s State Snapshot from the 2013 National School Climate Survey, 85% of LGBT students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression, and 66% regularly heard negative remarks about transgender people. Furthermore, 33% reported regularly hearing school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression. In order to help LGBT students in Kentucky, the Snapshot recommends implementing comprehensive school anti-bullying/harassment policies, which specifically protect students’ sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, in contrast to SB76.
One way to combat this bill would be to support SNDA, or the Student Non-Discrimination Act. SNDA is a federal bill that prohibits “discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would give LGBT students similar rights and protections against harassment as those that currently apply to students based on race and gender.” This bill would give more legal options to LGBT students who face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity -- legal options that transgender students, who are now at risk and can be denied access to the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity, do not currently have.
To help support SNDA, contact your Congress members and urge them to support safe schools for all students.
March 05, 2015
The GLSEN Research Department will be presenting new research findings at two conferences in the next few weeks. See their presentation schedule below and stop by if you’re in Philly or Chicago!
Be sure to follow @GLSENResearch for updates!
February 26, 2015
One of your followers decided to go directly to GLSEN Northern Virginia's Facebook page and call us bigots. You also warned us to "stay the f*** away from your kids." I hope you have read GLSEN's mission and understand it well. I am certainly not opposed to explaining it to you.
However, let me be absolutely clear. When you called GLSEN a bigoted organization, I explained our mission to you on your advertised page. I asked that you understand our mission and mentioned that we do not discriminate against people of faith and that our board, in fact, is representative of people of multiple faiths. This clearly did not work for you so I am sorry I was not assertive enough.
If you post on a page with mostly youth followers who have experienced incredible adversity in their lives that I could not even imagine going through, and make the comments you did, you are bigoted. You are proving the point of so many others and you are the punch line of this joke. You are the source of this nation's problems. You are the problem and you are NOT the solution.
As a person of faith and as a person in general, I can only hope you understand your mistakes and I have enough optimism in me to believe that you will at some point. Let this post serve as a message and as a warning. I will "stay away from your kids" just as much as I hope you keep your hatred and bigotry away from those that I support. However, when you realize "your kids" are more progressive and understanding than you, I hope you learn from them.
David Aponte is a Chapter leader from GLSEN's Northern Virginia Chapter.
February 13, 2015
The GLSEN Research Department will be presenting its latest research at several conferences in the next few weeks. See their presentation schedule below and stop by if you’re in the area!
We hope to see you there, but if you can only be there in spirit, be sure to follow @GLSENResearch for updates!
January 23, 2015
Hi, I’m Hallie, the new intern for the Communications Department here at GLSEN! I’m incredibly excited to be joining such an amazing team, and I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you across the internet too!
Everyone has their own path to discovering what they are passionate about, and in many ways, I’m still at the beginning of mine. But my involvement in activism and human rights started my sophomore year of college, after I had lived with depression for many years and was finally diagnosed with an eating disorder. BED (Binge Eating Disorder) is something that many people struggle with but isn’t widely discussed. I felt a lot of shame and fear and became more depressed. By a stroke of luck (and a lot of time spent on the internet) I found the body positive feminist community. For the first time in my life, I was seeing images of people with a huge amount of diversity: size, race, gender identity, ability, and more. I started to realize that there is beauty in differences, and I didn’t have to be ashamed for not looking the way I thought I was supposed to. This mentality spread across my whole life, and I wanted to bring the acceptance of differences into the lives of as many individuals as I could reach: both those struggling with being different, and those who struggle to accept differences.
I graduated from Binghamton University last May, and while I was there I was part of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies department. This gave me the opportunity to learn from an academic standpoint about historical and global approaches to countering and embracing diversity. I am very passionate about trans rights, size acceptance, intersectionality and inclusivity among all activist and social justice circles, ensuring that minority voices within the LGBTQ+ community are heard (such as the sometimes quieter bisexual, genderqueer, or asexual voices) and in general, human rights. However, to me, the most important thing is ensuring that everyone knows they matter. As a human being, as an individual, as one’s self I just want to say: you are important. Diversity and difference are what make the world interesting!
I’m still coming to terms with my own struggles and recovery, but I believe that everyone has obstacles in their path, and in my case, those obstacles actually helped divert me onto the right path. My life has shaped me into a person who wants to be there to help others the same way others were there to help me. I hope that during my time at GLSEN I can share stories that inspire, encourage, and enlighten those who feel different or help to open the minds of those who don’t yet see the beauty of difference. GLSEN helps create safe spaces in schools and society, and I’m happy to be a part of that mission.
January 16, 2015
Hey, GSAs: It's time to show your GLSEN spirit by participating in a GSA Challenge! Here's what you need to know about GSA Challenges.
- GSA Challenges will be announced periodically throughout the school year, giving you a chance to do cool stuff with your GSA in exchange for cool stuff from us.
- Why participate? GSA Challenges help us stay in touch with you and see what your GSA is up to! Plus...
- ...as a bonus, after each challenge, we'll randomly choose a few GSAs to win awesome prizes.
- To participate and enter your GSA into the drawing, complete the challenge and share a picture of it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #CaughtBeingKind.
- Only registered GSAs are eligible to win. Don’t know if your GSA is registered? Register now to make sure you’re eligible!
Ready for your next challenge?
THE CHALLENGE: Have your GSA do a super fabulous random act of kindness.
- Include as many GSA members as you can.
- Coordinate something kind you can do for a person or group of people, the cooler or sweeter the better!
- Do your random act of kindness!
- Take a picture or Instagram video to document your act of kindness and share it using the hashtag #CaughtBeingKind.
THE WINNINGS: Each day, one registered GSA will be selected to get a gift box from GLSEN, filled with items from our GLSEN store!
THE DEADLINE: The challenge runs throughout No Name-Calling Week. We'll pick a GSA each morning beginning Tuesday, Jan. 20 and ending Friday, Jan. 23. Submissions will be accepted until 11:59PM EST Friday, Jan.23 and we will notify the winning GSAs!
Time to show us what your GSA's got! Good luck!
January 08, 2015
Why silence? Aren’t we trying to fight against silence?
A silent demonstration can be a peaceful way to bring urgent attention to an important issue. Silence as a method of organizing is much different than silence that is coerced or forced through oppressive bullying, harassment and intimidation. A silent demonstration is active, rather than passive, and causes people to pay attention. Silent demonstrations can:
- Bring attention to an issue and encourage reflection on the issue;
- Simulate the how others are silenced;
- Focus the attention on the issue or cause and not the protester;
- Demonstrate that the demonstrators desire peaceful resolution;
- Spark discussion and dialogue.
Through your active silence on the Day of Silence you will send a message that bullying and harassment faced by LGBT and ally youth affects you, your school and community. And remember, the Day of Silence is a moment to open the conversation on this issue. Follow up your participation with a Breaking the Silence event. You can plan a rally at your school, facilitate a workshop for students and teachers about LGBT issues or throw a party with your GSA or host a discussion group with DOS participants. For more info on how to organize a Breaking the Silence event, check out the Breaking the Silence info sheet.
January 04, 2015
"Why silence? Aren’t we trying to fight against silence?” Saad, a 2010-2011 GLSEN Student Ambassador, shares how silence on the Day of Silence is used as a powerful tool for direct action and social change:
Are you participating? Make sure you’re registered so that we can support you and your school. Register today and join the movement!
January 04, 2015
Today is the culmination of GLSEN's Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, a weekend of learning and lobbying in Washington, DC. Right now, more than 40 GLSEN activists are urging their representatives in Congress to make safer schools for all students. If you're sad that you can't be at the Capitol today - don't be! We've got live updates and videos to transport you from the halls of your school to the halls of power. Here's what's happened so far today: 10:38 am After breakfast, Emma and César filmed a message as they got ready for their first meetings:
11:45 am Emma had a great meeting with the office of Senator Dick Durbin:
12 pm César might have been super nervous before his meeting with Senator Kay Hagan's office, but it went perfectly!
1:15 pm Emma met with the office of one of the co-sponsors of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, Senator Mark Kirk. What a great chance to say, "Thanks!"
2:30 pm That's a full day for Emma! Three meetings down, three great opportunities to discuss safer schools. Check out her video:
3 pm César is heading into his next meeting...
3:30 pm ... and leaving the meeting:
5 pm César rounded out the day with a late visit to Senator Burr's office:
January 04, 2015
The Day of Silence is approaching! On April 19, students around the world will take a vow of silence to draw attention to the bullying and harassment that too many LGBT students face each day. Student ambassador César Rodriguez created a video about why you should register. Check it out!
Early registrants will get free Day of Silence gear. Plus, everyone who registers will be sent tips and resources to help your Day of Silence activities be the best they can be! Click here to register!