NEW YORK, October 13, 2008 – Students across the country are signing a pledge to be allies this week as part of GLSEN’s Ally Week, a week of activities designed to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment at school.
The fourth-annual event comes a week after the announcement that GLSEN is partnering with the Ad Council on a massive public education campaign to promote tolerance and respect. The campaign will feature TV public service announcements starring Hilary Duff and Wanda Sykes encouraging teenagers to “knock it off” when it comes to anti-LGBT language.
The multiyear project is the Ad Council’s first-ever LGBT-themed campaign.
“Ally Week is an opportunity for allies to come forward and show their support for the notion that all students deserve to feel safe in school, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings said. “We would not have come as far as we have in this effort without the support of allies. In fact, the first Gay-Straight Alliance was the idea of a straight student of mine in 1988.”
Among the week’s activities, GSAs and student leaders are encouraging students to sign the Ally Pledge during the week, either through pledge cards or online at www.allyweek.org.
The pledge reads:
I believe all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression deserve to feel safe and supported.
That means I pledge to:
Not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) language or slurs.
Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed.
Support efforts to end bullying and harassment.
A new GLSEN survey released last week shows that the support of allies is as needed as ever. According to The 2007 National School Climate Survey, about 9 out of 10 (86.2%) of LGBT students experienced verbal harassment in the past year based on their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) experienced physical harassment and about a quarter (22.1%) experienced physical assault.
David Aponte, a 16-year-old straight ally from Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Va., said Ally Week is an opportunity to show that you don’t have to be LGBT-identified to care about addressing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
“I think it makes a huge statement when students see people who are not gay showing support,” said Aponte, a junior. “I think they respect that and say maybe I should support this, too. It strengthens support.”
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on our educator resources, research, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.