Ally Week Kicks Off in More than a Thousand Schools
NEW YORK - Thousands of students from more than 1,000 middle and high schools across the country began participating in GLSEN's Ally Week today to identify, encourage and support allies in addressing anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying in schools.
A student-led and student-created event, Ally Week is a way to build upon the unifying work of Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs by encouraging people to be allies against anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.
"Everybody deserves to have an education, and everybody deserves to feel safe at school," said Moriah Rahamim, a 17-year-old senior from Cleveland. "I am an ally because of empathy, and by working to ensure the safety of students who face stigma due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, I believe that we are really fighting for the safety of all students, everywhere."
Students participate in a number of ways but usually encourage their peers to take the Ally Week pledge, which students and adults sign either through pledge cards in school 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.
Nearly 9 out of 10 (84.6%) LGBT students experience harassment at school and 61.1% feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN%EF%BF%BDs 2009 National School Climate Survey of 7,261 LGBT students in middle and high school.
"Recent tragedies have brought attention to the longstanding public health crisis of anti-LGBT bullying in our schools," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "Allies can make a huge difference in creating safer schools for LGBT youth. GLSEN's Ally Week offers students and adults an opportunity to show their support for creating a world in which all students are valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org