- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) today announced the beginning of GLSEN's Ally Week, with thousands of students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia pledging to be allies to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and make schools safer for all.
Founded in 2005 by students, Ally Week was created for student clubs commonly known as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in their schools and local communities.
"I am an ally because I believe no one should ever feel like their life is not worth living for," said Dana Broer, a 17-year-old student from Omaha, Neb. "Every student has the right to be safe at school, and I am willing to dedicate my time to make sure I do everything I can to make my school safe for LGBT students."
"I am involved in Ally Week because it is important for me as an ally and my acquaintances to support the LGBT community," said Abigail Lee Lucas, a 14-year-old student from Maryville, Tenn.
Students participating in Ally Week from October 15-19 organize a variety of activities throughout the weeklong event. Students commonly encourage their peers to take the Ally Week pledge by signing a card in their school or online at www.allyweek.org.
Ally Week participants pledge to:
- Not use anti-LGBT language or slurs;
- Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed;
- Support efforts to end bullying and harassment and;
- Encourage others to be allies.
While Ally Week is a student-focused event, students have invited their principals, counselors, teachers and other school staff to participate.
GLSEN has created a set of engagement tools available at www.allyweek.org/action for students to use in school and on-the-go including nametags, profile pictures, cover photos, twibbons and thank you cards.
Additionally, GLSEN is encouraging Ally Week participants, including adult allies, to show support for LGBT youth by snapping a photo with one of the Ally Week signs stating "I'm an Ally" or "I ♥ Allies." Supporters can submit their photos to GLSEN, share them on the GLSEN Tumblr and post on Facebook and Twitter feeds.
A series of GLSEN Ally Week videos are available (in English and Spanish) to view online. Students and adults share their personal stories about why allies are important in school for everyone. To view, please visit www.youtube.com/glsen.
According to the GLSEN 2011 National School Climate Survey, 4 out of 5 LGBT students experience harassment at school each year because of their sexual orientation and two-thirds because of their gender expression. Findings also revealed that 63.5% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 43.9% because of how they expressed their gender.
Additionally, two-thirds of students were out as LGBT to other students. Outness was found to be related to higher levels of victimization based on sexual orientation and gender expression, but also related to higher self-esteem, lower depression and higher levels of attachment to school.
"GLSEN's Ally Week plays an integral role in improving LGBT students' school experience," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "Ally Week is an opportunity for all of us who are allies to LGBT youth to step forward and make a commitment to support safe and affirming environments for LGBT students in school."
Follow GLSEN's Ally Week online! You can find us on Twitter at @glsen. Use the Twitter hashtag #AllyWeek.
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.