GLSEN Connecticut's Student Organizing Blog
In celebration of no name calling week, the GLSEN Connecticut Student Organizing Team is doing a blog post for every day of the week, each themed differently for each day!
RED: A time where the usage of names and slurs set off red flags for me was the first time that I heard anti-gay slurs used in my school's GSA. During my time in the GSA, I had been a presenter and a very vocal activist for LGBT+ rights in schools. One meeting, I walked in late, and heard an "ally" in the club using derogatory, anti-gay slurs in reaction to something a club member said that he did not like. This set off red flags for me; if he was allowed to use those slurs in front of the advisor and leader of the school's GSA, then who could stop anyone from using that language? This caused me to address the issue head-on, and eventually teach some of the offending students that using these hateful words were offensive.
-Oliver McVoy, Foreign High School, Senior
ORANGE YOU GLAD? An example of a time when someone's act of kindness made you glad/happy.
During my sophomore year a boy would constantly judge my sexuality and tell me that being Gray Asexual was not real. He came up to me during lunch one day and told me I was stupid for using labels like that when I was unexperienced. I felt uncomfortable in the situation until a student at the end of my table told him to stop harassing me, and that they were going to administration if he didn't back off. That day I was glad to have a bystander by my side to stop the other persons comments. If it weren't for them, the student would probably still be making comments and more people could have chimed in! That was the time I was glad about someone caring and helping me in a situation!
-Alex Ciaffaglione, Junior at Southington High School
YELLOW: Often time, non-threatening situations can feel frightening when certain language comes up. For instance, when using the bathroom while trans. On days where I am not harassed, the small things can be incredibly scary. On one occasion I was followed into the restroom by two boys. I entered my stall, used the bathroom, and then I heard it.
"What is it?"
"I think it's a transvestite or something."
I waited, fearful, all too familiar with where this could lead. Thankfully they left, but just being referred to with a slur, with those words and names, made something commonplace, peeing, fearful. That day I learned that words can do more than hurt, they can put serious, and justified fear into the hearts of those that hear it. . Not only for me, and not only for trans kids, but for lgbtq+ teens everywhere.
-Parker Levensaler, Junior at Southington High School
Green: What is an example of a time where someone around you acted in a way you wish you did?
Around my school slurs targeting the LGBT community are used a lot. There wasn’t really an LGBT presence at school until I came out last year so we’re a little behind in comparison to other schools. Up until this year actually I was the only out person at my school. I wanted so bad to change the school to make it more accepting for LGBT kids and inform people about the harm the words they were saying inflicted but I was so intimidated. There was already a social stigma surrounding me because I was out and I didn’t want to make it worse. Whether it was when I overheard conversations or direct verbal attacks I was scared. My attitude however changed this fall. My friend and I (who had just come out as pan) were in band practice and one of the kids in there called someone else a faggot. I wasn’t going to say anything because of how I felt but my friend immediately responded to him telling him what he did wrong. I was amazed that he could do that without a moment of hesitation. I was so envious of the courage he had just shown but it also taught me something. I wasn’t alone in school. I wasn’t the only out one anymore and I’d always have him and all my other friends to help me in how I wanted to change the school. Since then we've done so much for the betterment of our school and will continue to do so.
-Chris, Senior at Brunswick School
Blue: How did you lift someone up when they were blue?
"One time in biology class, a friend of mine got upset when someone called her stupid for doing worse than him on a test. It was someone she really hated and frequently bothered her, so it hurt her a lot. I helped her feel better by reminding her of how smart she is and how hard she's been working. I told her jokes and mentioned how her class rank was way higher than his anyway."
- Samantha, Sophomore
Purple: How did/can an act of kindness help you heal when you were emotionally or physically bruised. (Saturday)
When I was coming to terms with my identity and expressing that to my family and friends, my vulnerability and openness was met with different reactions. It was a difficult time; many people were closed-minded and those who had good intentions often said or did things that hurt, a lot, but they didn’t understand why. It was a very isolating time. I didn’t feel I had many people, if anyone, to talk to. It was especially hard at home, since I’m the youngest child and all my siblings either lived on their own or were away at school. My parents had a hard time being supportive; they were just very confused on how to handle this situation, and them being lost, in a sense, didn’t help me at all to navigate the confusion I felt.
Even though my sister wasn’t at home to comfort me, she found a way to show her support across the country. She joined her business school’s ally group and talked to me a lot about how I was feeling and how she could help. In the past year, she’s become the head of the ally organization and runs a lot of great events that help train and educate allies in her community. She has taken her support for me and grown it in to something so wonderful and helpful for everyone around her. I couldn’t be prouder of her.
That’s the great thing about acts of kindness: they grow and affect everyone around you. No matter how big or small, one act of kindness makes a difference. Everyone has the power to change the world we live in and make it a better place. I hope this week has inspired you to keep that attitude and implement it in your life every day.
- Kate Connors, Senior at Greenwich Academy
"I'm so proud to be apart of No Name-Calling Week. It's wonderful to see so many people come together to fight these issues. It gives me a lot of hope for our future."
"To me no name calling week is a time to highlight everything that lgbtq+ kids shouldn't have to face, but do, and put an end to it; because no one deserves to be called mean things, and I hope we can stop it altogether eventually."
"To me, No Name Calling Week was important because bullying is such a huge problem and names really influence the way we think of things. If we all make a conscious effort not to call people bad names and to even go the extra mile to say something nice, everyone would be a lot happier. No Name Calling Week is really about positivity to me in general, and working to make the world a better place by focusing on the little things."
"No Name Calling Week to me is a week where people don't use slurs or other rude names towards others. I personally love weeks like this because it makes people become more aware of things they say on a daily basis that could be seen as offensive. Overall, No Name Calling week is just a week where people treat each other with respect and it's also a way for people to learn what is not okay to say in a casual setting."
"No Name Calling Week is an important time for LGBT+ people to speak out against the hateful language that is common in our culture. Instead of sitting silent and accepting the words that hurt us, it is instead the time to act and teach people that these words still hurt, and that their usage must end."
"This week was important to me because I got to reflect on all the times hateful language has been used again me and my friends and act against it. It's really awesome also seeing a lot of people involved in it and supporting it."
Student Leaders Reflect on Their Student Org. Training and the Transgender Day of Remembrance
“Overall, I had so much fun meeting new people, reuniting with old friends, engaging in new activities on GLSEN’s mission and purpose, and sharing all the great food! Developing our very own workshop proposals for the True Colors Conference helped me grow as a student leader because it gave me the chance to offer my own knowledge and skills on different safe school topics. I realized how important my voice is since I plan to be heard as much as possible.”
- Kylar Maldonado, Junior, Ansonia High School
“My favorite part of training was when we learned our leadership styles. It taught me how to cooperate with people with different leadership styles and I now feel like a more flexible leader. I would also love to recreate the pride flag activity with my GSA! My pride flag not only reflected my multiple identities but also reminded me of the things that inspired me to become who I am today. It was a great way to get me motivated, and I'd love to share this activity with my school.”
- Gray Sailor, Senior, Metropolitan Learning Center
“For me, the Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to reflect on the world I live in and how so many lives can be taken because of ignorance and fear. But I am so thankful for my own life and the lives of other transgender people I know. Much to my dismay, many members of my GSA did not know the day existed or the horrifying statistics showing the high levels of bullying and harassment targeting transgender and gender non-conforming students. I feel a responsibility to my school community and those lost in the last year to inform people of the significance of the day.”
- Alex Cavanagh, Junior, Amity Regional High School
Stay tuned for more quotes, articles, and stories from our Student Org. Team!