Gay-Straight Alliance "Allies 4 Equality" of James Hubert Blake High School to be recognized at GLSEN Respect Awards - New York on Monday
NEW YORK - May 15, 2012 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is proud to announce "Allies 4 Equality" of James Hubert Blake High School as the inaugural recipient of GLSEN's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award. Born This Way Foundation President & Co-founder Cynthia Germanotta will present the award, which is the newest recognition to the Respect Awards lineup.
The GSA of the Year award honors a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure that all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
"We are proud to honor Allies 4 Equality of James Hubert Blake High School with GLSEN's first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year Award that recognizes the profound impact peer leadership can have on creating a safer school climate," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "The work of Allies 4 Equality has not only transformed its school community, but also reached countless people across the country and around the world. We look forward to recognizing this exceptional GSA at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York."
Founded in 2002, Allies 4 Equality is a student-led club with 40 members. The student organization aims to address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md.
Allies 4 Equality is responsible for the Allie the Ally project designed as a visibility campaign for people to show support for LGBT youth. The paper doll has been sent across the country and around the world to people who take photos with Allie and send back messages of encouragement. Widespread support for the project has been documented on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
High school teacher and Allies 4 Equality faculty advisor Mary Wagner nominated the student club for GLSEN's inaugural award.
"This award is really important to the A4E students, because it shows them that the outside community believes in what they are doing," said faculty advisor Mary Wagner. "We work very hard to ensure that our school and community are welcoming to everyone, and this award acknowledges that effort."
"I'm so excited that we have won this award this year," said Allies 4 Equality Co-President Jenna Beers. "It really validates all the hard work we have put in to make our school and the community around us safer for all LBGTQ youth and their straight allies."
The club annually sponsors student-led actions including GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week and Day of Silence observance to raise awareness about harmful language and anti-LGBT bullying. The student club has also developed PSAs in the style of GLSEN's "Think Before You Speak" campaign to address name-calling of all kinds.
GLSEN is proud to announce the finalists of the inaugural award including Gay, Lesbian or Whatever (GLOW) of Lakeside School in Seattle, Was.; Aragon High School GSA of San Mateo, Calif. and; University School GSA of University School of Nova Southe in Davie, Fl.
GSAs are student-led clubs that help to ensure schools offer a safe and affirming environment for all students. GLSEN has supported and provided resources to GSAs for more than 20 years.
According to a GLSEN research brief on GSAs, GSAs have shown tremendous value in providing safe spaces and critical support for LGBT students.
- Students in schools with GSAs are less likely to hear homophobic remarks in school on a daily basis than students in schools without a GSA (57% compared to 75%).
- LGBT students in schools with GSAs are less likely to miss school because they feel unsafe compared to other students: a quarter (26%) of students in schools with GSAs missed school in the past month because they felt unsafe compared to a third (32%) of students at schools without GSAs.
- LGBT students in schools with a GSA are significantly more likely than students in schools without a GSA to be aware of a supportive adult at school (84% compared to 56%). LGBT students who report having supportive faculty and other school staff report higher grade point averages and are more likely to say they plan to pursue post-secondary education than LGBT students who do not have supportive school staff.
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.