December 2nd Episode at 8pm EST to Feature Story of Anti-Bullying Advocate and GLSEN National Board Member Sirdeaner Walker
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NEW YORK - Dec. 2, 2011 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) will appear in ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight (8pm EST/7pm CST) to help tell the story of anti-bullying advocate and GLSEN National Board Member Sirdeaner Lynn Walker.
GLSEN's partnership with the show's producers originated early this year when the show sought to identify families from across the country with children that experienced bullying. Producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition selected the Walker family as the featured recipient of a home makeover.
Sirdeaner Walker's 11-year-old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, took his life on April 6, 2009. While the cause of suicide is complex, Carl endured constant bullying at school. Research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion and despair, as well as to depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.
Walker has shared her story of tragedy and hope on ABC World News Tonight, Anderson Cooper 360, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, People Magazine, USA Network's Characters Unite Moth Series and, National Public Radio's Here and Now Show.
"This momentous occasion for Sirdeaner Walker and her family is an opportunity to become one step closer towards realizing her vision of a world where schools and communities are free from bullying and harassment," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "Sirdeaner's story woven throughout this episode will shed light on why schools need to be safer and more respectful for all students. GLSEN and our local, state and national partners are more than fortunate to count Sirdeaner as an ally in the movement to end bullying and harassment in our schools and I am proud to call her a friend."
For the past 2.5 years, Sirdeaner Walker has partnered with GLSEN to become a national spokesperson calling for anti-bullying protections in schools. As a member of GLSEN's National Board of Directors, Walker has traveled the country telling the story of the bullying and harassment Carl suffered at the hands of his peers and the failure of his school to intervene.
Walker has also testified before the United States Congress Joint Subcommittees on Early Education, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Education.
GLSEN worked with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to bring the community of Springfield, Massachusetts together, and to give a fresh start to the Walker family. Other anti-bullying and suicide prevention organizations provided support to construct the remodeled home including The Trevor Project and It Gets Better.
The special anti-bullying episode attracted celebrity support including NBA player Ray Allen (Boston Celtics); entrepreneurs and television personalities Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian and Kourtney Kardashian; singer Demi Lovato; singer Cody Simpson; Ariel Winter (ABC's Modern Family) and; the cast of Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie.
As a part of the show, GLSEN worked with the Makeover team to create Stand Together, a community of people dedicated to taking action against bullying, with Sirdeaner Walker - a leading advocate on this issue - as the driving force behind the movement. The online hub featured in the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode is designed to raise awareness about the overwhelming number of bullying incidents in our nation's schools. Those touched by her work of making schools safe for all students can get involved and make a pledge against bullying and harassment by visiting www.standtogether.tv.
"Tonight's episode featuring Sirdeaner and her family will reach an audience that can shape the future success of every student," said Byard. "We join Sirdeaner and our friends at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to honor Carl's memory by working to ensure that all students are able to realize their full potential in a safe and respectful school environment."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & 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.