Later this week, I will again have the privilege of traveling with GLSEN student leaders to Washington D.C. for our annual Safe Schools Advocacy Summit (SSAS). At SSAS, students learn about the legislative process, current legislative initiatives and participate in a variety of team building exercises and leadership workshops.
But most importantly, they have the opportunity to meet with elected officials and discuss the vital need for strong safe schools legislation — like the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA).
I have seen firsthand the powerful difference these meetings can make — how a student’s story can move a vote from the no column to the yes. Here is what I witnessed in the office of Representative Don Young (R-AK).
In 2008, I accompanied Tonei Glavinic, a student from Anchorage, Alaska, to a meeting with Rep. Young, a conservative Congressman from a conservative state. Tonei talked about what school was like, about being bullied and how most students are not fortunate enough to attend a school where LGBT youth are accepted. Tonei spoke with such intensity and conviction that you could hear a pin drop in the room.