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The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. With headquarters in New York City, and a satellite office in Washington, DC, GLSEN also coordinates with dozens of local chapters throughout the nation in advocating for the protection of students on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
We strive to assure that each member of every K-12 public school across the country is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression. GLSEN combats the harassment and discrimination leveled against students and school personnel. GLSEN helps to create learning environments that affirm the inherent dignity of all students, and, in so doing, teaches them to respect and accept all of their classmates-- regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/ expression. GLSEN believes that the key to ending anti-LGBT prejudice and hate-motivated violence is education. And it is for this reason that GLSEN brings together students, educators, families and other community members--of any sexual orientation or gender identity/expression--to reform Americaís educational system.
Unfortunately violence, bias and harassment of LGBT students is the rule, not the exception in Americaís schools today.
According to GLSENís 2003 National School Climate Survey:
- 4 out of 5 LGBT students hear homophobic remarks often in their schools.
- 39% of LGBT students report being verbally or physically assaulted, often with a weapon.
- Nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT students skipped school in the last month because they were simply too afraid to go.
This kit explains our programmatic work with students, educators and policy makers to guarantee a future where every child learns to respect and accept all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. We recognize that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and we support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community. We welcome as members any and all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or occupation, who are committed to seeing this philosophy realized in K-12 schools.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network envisions a future in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Founded as a local group in 1990, the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network (GLSTN) began as a volunteer group of 70 gay and lesbian educators. At that time, there were two Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in the nation, only one state with policy in place to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, and a general lack of awareness of the needs of LGBT students. LGBT youth did not have a voice in the education community or in the LGBT movement. There were few, if any, resources available for teachers to discuss LGBT issues.
However, groups of concerned individuals began to establish chapters across the country, advocating locally and regionally for safe schools for students who were, or were perceived to be, LGBT.
In 1995 GLSTN became a national organization and hired it first full time staff person, GLSTNís founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. In 1997, GLSTN staged its first national conference in Salt Lake City, UT to respond to the legislatureís move to ban all student groups in an effort to prevent the formation of GSAs in the state. It is also this year that GLSTN changes its name to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, in order to attract new members to the struggle for safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression.
Currently, GLSEN has registered more than 2500 GSAs, has approximately 30 full time staff, a governing board of 20 members and two advisory committees at the national level. At this point GLSEN has successfully hosted 8 national conferences to bring together student leaders, educators, chapter leaders and activists. GLSEN also sponsors the National Day of Silence, which close to 2 million students, teachers, and staff have been a part of at 3029 school campuses across the country. GLSENís newest national project is National No Name Calling Week. In coalition with leading education organizations, including the National Education Association and the National Middle School Association, GLSEN is proud to be a part of an event geared toward educating middle school students about the negative impact of bullying and harassment.
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