January 04, 2015

Rich Espey

Middle School Teacher Baltimore, Maryland

When you teach Middle School students you need to expect the unexpected! This year, as I look forward to another year as co-advisor to The Park School of Baltimore’s Middle School GSA (for information and resources on starting your own GSA, check out GLSEN's Jump Start program), I can’t wait to see what great project ideas our students will come up with. Last year our GSA began by creating a “Question of the Month” bulletin board, posting queries like “Why don’t straight people have to come out?” and “What are the ‘rules’ for girls and boys in our school and what happens if someone breaks them?” Along with each displayed question were slips of paper for people to leave anonymous written responses in our rainbow-decorated box, a box which filled quickly with (mostly) thoughtful replies. Each month’s contents were summarized and posted on the bulletin board along with a new question. What a great way to promote thoughtful hallway discussion and increase LGBT visibility! Later in the year our GSA decided to sponsor a mock referendum in anticipation of Maryland’s coming referendum on same-sex marriage legislation (passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor in March, 2012). After an informative student-led assembly explaining both the issue and the referendum process, our rainbow box was once again put to work! The results? Ninety-one percent of our student body voted in favor of upholding the law entitling same-sex couples the right to civil marriage. I sincerely believe that the work my colleagues at Park have done to include age-appropriate presentations of gender and sexuality diversity across the curriculum played a role in that landslide. So what’s next? The LGBT History Timeline we didn’t quite have time to get off the ground last year? Advocacy supporting pending transgender anti-discrimination legislation? I don’t know! But I do know my colleagues and I will listen carefully to our students and support their needs and interests. I’ll wager that in this school year we’ll find new ways to keep thinking, talking and learning about gender and sexuality diversity – and we’ll get even closer to creating that ideal environment of safety and inclusion for all. Middle Schoolers never cease to surprise and amaze me. I’m expecting the unexpected – thank goodness that’s something I can count on!  

Resources to help you get back to school

The Jump Start Program - GSA resource What have YOU done to transform you school? What ideas or tips can you provide to other LGBT students overcoming challenges? Share your story with us so that we can share it with world. Together, we’ll be inspired to make this school year even better than the last – for everyone.  

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

December 31, 2014

>Still more stories being shared over at facebook - and I become more and more inspired by all those who are participating and supporting:

I actually did this last year before and it brought back some bad memories. For the simple fact that I wasn't speaking, people judged me, pushed me around. I didn't have a single defense for myself. My actions could not help when nobody was looking at me. To quote a book title, "I have no mouth and I must scream." It was how I felt that day. Now, I must put myself through it again to feel the pain that people go through every single day. I may be straight, but I love all people, no matter their race, gender, or sexuality. It's so sad that people treat others as if they are nothing. I hope we all can stand up with our arms braced and get through this.

Aaron F.

January 05, 2015

My name is Ximena. In less than six months I will graduate high school, and in the fall I will attend Columbia University as a Political Science major. I hope to use my education to continue protecting students from bullying and harassment. I feel that I am on the brink of something big – my future is full of possibility! But to be honest, I have not always felt this way. 

While my high school was far from a cesspool of homophobia, the apathy of staff and students was palpable. As the only out lesbian in my school, I was often the brunt of jokes. During my freshman year, some classmates called me “Latina lesbian,” targeting both my ethnic identity and my sexual orientation. Worst of all, no one came to my defense. I felt really alone and marginalized.

This is when I found my local GLSEN chapter. I attended my first GLSEN event and was surprised by the accepting environment. It was the first time in my life that I felt comfortable talking openly about my sexual orientation and how it intersects with my Mexican culture. I was so inspired by the people I met, many of whom became my role models. Like me, they experienced challenges in schools and they overcame them. I realized that in order to achieve my dreams, I needed to take action to improve my school – for me and for everyone.

Shortly after that event, I started a Gay-Straight Alliance in my school using GLSEN’s resources. Pretty soon I started to see teachers participating in GLSEN days of action or using safe space materials in the classroom, and I started to feel more supported. I now know that any person that supports GLSEN will not turn a blind eye to homophobia or transphobia. My goals of higher education would not have been realized without the support and acceptance provided to me by teachers, friends, peers and especially GLSEN. By this time next year, I will be taking my first college mid-terms – an idea that scares me but also makes me feel grateful.

There is still much work to be done. Many students don’t have GSAs or supportive adults in their schools, and many still feel afraid to be themselves. Please donate to GLSEN so that we can expand our reach to new communities. Know that your donation will enable chapters across the country to continue creating safe spaces in schools, which allow students like me to thrive and to reach their full potential.

Sincerely #GLSENproud,

Ximena

December 12, 2014

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 #GLSENproud. 
  • 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 first challenge? 

THE CHALLENGE: Take the biggest, awesomest GSA group picture you can in front of your school. 

  • Include as many GSA members as you can. 
  • Gather all the GLSEN stuff you can find -- shirts, stickers, posters, Day of Silence armbands, you name it! 
  • Pose in front of a sign that shows the name of your school. 

THE WINNINGS: 5 registered GSAs will get a pizza party on us! 

THE DEADLINE: The challenge runs until Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 11:59pm ET. We'll hold the drawing and notify the winning GSAs on Wednesday! 

Time to show us what your GSA's got! Good luck! 

 

Pages

Find Your Chapter