Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director
I am very pleased to report that our 2011
Safe Schools Advocacy Summit-an action-packed three days of learning
and leadership, bringing together a diverse group of high school student
and adult activists-was a tremendous success!
than 90 meetings were held with members of Congress and their representatives,
including every member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education,
Labor and Pensions, which is considering two pieces of legislation important
to GLSEN: the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination
Act. Putting faces and personal stories to the campaign to pass both
bills was a key objective of the Summit.
Jared Polis (D-CO), lead sponsor of the Student Non-Discrimination Act
in the House, provided encouragement to Summit participants in a midday
speech, and country singer Chely Wright joined the participants for
dinner and some advocacy prep sessions. The meetings on the Hill have
already resulted in Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) co-sponsoring both bills
after meeting with a straight ally from his district and Sen. Tom Udall
(D-NM) signing on to the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate.
Participants were able to meet face-to-face with a number of Senators
and Representatives including Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins
(R-ME), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jack Reed (D-RI),
Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Al Franken (D-MN) and
Representatives Edward Whitfield (R-KY) and Rob Woodall (R-GA).
bridges to new and potential supporters, and developing new leadership
among LGBT students and their allies, are essential tasks to advancing
GLSEN's mission of safe and great schools for all. The Safe Schools
Advocacy Summit does both, and we are deeply grateful to you and other
GLSEN supporters for making this important event possible.
Eliza Byard, PhD
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