July 11, 2016
“I see everyone as a hero. Life can be so tough sometimes. Other people’s opinions can wear on you. Other people’s hatred can make life feel very difficult for some of us. Anyone who can go through the challenges of dealing with others’ negative opinions, of having their dreams mocked, or their feelings ridiculed, and still get out of bed, willing to do it again the next day ... Whew! That person is a hero. You are a hero.”
How To Be You
Youth advocate and social media sensation Jeffrey Marsh, in their forthcoming book How To Be You, recognizes that everyone is a hero/ine and every identity is worth celebrating.
And we agree! To celebrate every hero/ine—each and every one of you—GLSEN and Jeffrey Marsh invite you to design your very own superhero cape, one that represents your talents and superpowers. Show the evildoers of this world what gives you strength, the ways you’re trustworthy and what’s most important to you.
Download a blank cape here, and make it your own!
What would your cape look like?
Share with us your unique, fabulous, creative cape, and win a copy of Jeffrey Marsh’s book or even a video chat with Jeffrey! Five winners will be hand picked by Jeffrey to receive a personalized copy of How To Be You, and one grand prize winner will get to video chat with Jeffrey one-on-one.
Celebrate yourself! Submit your cape by July 21!
Jeffrey Marsh’s book How To Be You is available for pre-order here, and $1 from every pre-order helps advance GLSEN’s mission of creating safe and affirming schools for all.
July 01, 2016
How are you so confident in life?
How can I be confident?
Friend of GLSEN, Jeffrey Marsh, is often asked these questions. The online sensation, public speaker and youth advocate extraordinaire whose videos on social media have encouraged millions answers questions like these—about confidence, self-discovery and self-love—in their new book, How To Be You. Pre-order your copy now!
Sharing their story of growing up fabulous in farmland Pennsylvania, Jeffrey’s book is a powerful combination of a memoir, a manual with advice on how to live a fulfilling life and a workbook with activities that can help you grow into the very best version of yourself. Before the book’s release on August 2, Jeffrey shared with us an exclusive excerpt where they answer the question they receive most: How can I be confident?
Want to read the whole book and start celebrating who you truly are? Pre-order How To Be You by clicking here. At the same time, you’ll be helping support safe and affirming schools, because $1 from every book sold during pre-sales will benefit GLSEN.
The confidence question is the most common one I get across all social media, and it’s confession time: I’m not confident. At least, I don’t always feel confident. But I suspect that when people ask me about being confident they are really asking me about trusting myself. “How can I be confident?” is another way of saying, “How can I trust myself?” If you learn to trust yourself completely, deep down, confidence isn’t an issue anymore. Confidence comes naturally if trust is present.
Let me back up a second. The first step to developing a strong sense of trust in yourself is understanding that other people’s opinions of you are almost always bunk—they are based on next to nothing. Most opinions are based on next to nothing! I don’t ever feel sure about anything, and I bet you feel the same way sometimes. Once you get past the initial shock and fear of realizing that few of us know even fewer things, it is amazing. It is freeing. It is fun. Feeling sure about knowing something and learning to trust yourself are two different things. So do I trust myself more than I trust other people’s opinions of me? I do now. And that, to me, is what is meant by confidence, trusting yourself. I couldn’t have any confidence without trusting my own perspective on the world, instead of someone else’s.
Choose one thing you think you’d like to be more confident about and take the time to look within yourself. If you want to feel more confident about reading things aloud at school or at work, say, you’d need to examine what you’ve already been taught about reading aloud, and decide what you believe about it. Does the ability or inability to read aloud mean something about you? Is it something that everyone should do really well? I’m not saying that uncovering and trusting what seems true for you automatically makes you confident, or that, in our example, it makes you excellent at reading aloud. To me, confidence is not attached to the outcome (whether you read well or not), it’s attached to the process: How do you treat yourself while you’re reading aloud? Can you trust your adequacy no matter what happens? If you know what’s most important to you, it doesn’t matter whether the reading goes well. This is hard to talk about because you were probably programmed to focus on how you perform in that situation. I’m asking you to focus on how you do what you do. That’s trust. Take a big step back. See a bigger picture. Trusting yourself in every situation takes time and practice, and it takes focus. It’s not about reading well, it’s about staying in that trusting place with yourself while you read. That is the path of a superhero.
We tend to think of superheroines as the other people, these separate and superior superhumans who possess extra special skills and thoughts. That isn’t true. They are just people who trust in themselves. Heroines are just like you. Heroes doubt themselves at first, just like you, but they go ahead anyway. Maybe what makes people seem confident is their ability to move forward even as they are building faith in themselves. They know they might make fools of themselves; they know they might fall flat on their faces. But they go ahead anyway, building trust along the way.
I see everyone as a hero. Life can be so tough sometimes. Other people’s opinions can wear on you. Other people’s hatred can make life feel very difficult for some of us. Anyone who can go through the challenges of dealing with others’ negative opinions, of having their dreams mocked, or their feelings ridiculed, and still get out of bed, willing to do it again the next day . . . Whew! That person is a hero. You are a hero.
You need to trust yourself, and your own story. You need to add yourself to the list of heroic do-gooders because you have something to contribute. Maybe you don’t wear a cape. (But, of course you could!) In your own way, though, you are brave. You have the ability to go ahead and do things you aren’t sure about. You have the ability to go ahead and try things that other people think are stupid and wrong, but that you, in your heart, trust is right.
And aren’t you lucky that you have the chance to do that? Aren’t you lucky that you get this life, this chance, to learn to set aside the yuck and muck of other people’s sometimes nasty words and do your best to live your life as fully as you know how? You don’t need to be confident to do that. You just need to be a dreamer and a questioner, and have the willingness to trust that your experience—your way of seeing things—is valid. You need to practice trusting that you are worthy.
How do I know you can trust yourself and your instincts? Because I’ve been through it myself. When I was growing up, everyone I knew (adults and kids alike) was trying to get me to suppress my natural qualities—my “too much-ness.” They tried everything! They called me names, they threatened me, they used violence and emotional abuse, all to get me to change. And thank goodness I couldn’t change. I tried for years, but I was horrible at pretending to be what I thought they wanted. You know what I learned from all this? Even if it seems like the whole world is against you, you’ve got to trust yourself. Even if no one else will honor you, you must honor what your truth is in any given moment.
This excerpt was printed with the permission of TarcherPerigee/Penguin, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright Jeffrey Marsh. ©2016.
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Marsh
Jeffrey Marsh’s book How To Be You is available for pre-order here, and $1 from every pre-order helps advance GLSEN’s mission of creating safe and affirming schools for all.
June 23, 2016
As GLSEN continues to memorialize the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, we believe that a visible show of pride in our identities and communities has rarely been more urgent. That’s why GLSEN is calling upon our community to “Show Your Pride.” In this post, Myra Lavenue of Columbia Sportswear describes how she showed her pride at the Portland Pride Parade last weekend while helping her company give back to GLSEN.
At the Portland Pride Parade last weekend, the team representing Columbia wore armbands in honor of the Orlando Pulse victims.
I work at Columbia Sportswear Company, and I love it here. There’s no mistaking my sexual orientation, yet I have always been accepted for who I am and judged for the work I do. Out since 1994, I live by a simple rule: Let them know who I am from the initial interview and only work for companies that accept me fully. Columbia Sportswear Company is one of those organizations.
Two years ago, I was standing with my wife and two daughters in our Columbia jackets watching the Portland Pride Parade, as the rain fell. My friends watching with us, also dressed in Columbia rain jackets, asked me why my company was not marching. We saw other companies in our industry walk by. Then someone said, “Columbia is too conservative, right?” Another person asked me if I was able to be out at work. I was shocked! That certainly wasn’t the Columbia Sportswear Company that I knew. In fact, Columbia had been an early supporter of marriage equality in Oregon, both in the press and through the legal system. So, right then and there, I vowed to help change the perception by getting my company into the Portland Pride Parade the next year.
When I returned to work, I partnered with our head of Human Resources to help champion the idea upward to the executive team. As it turned out, they were already inclined to get involved — they just needed to be asked! All they needed was someone to run with it. That was me.
For the first year, I collaborated with our Corporate Responsibility team, and we established a small contingent of employees who’d be able to participate. Around 75 employees and over 25 friends and family walked through the streets of Portland, behind a banner and wearing t-shirts that read: Diversitree — We support and celebrate diversity. The response from those we marched by was awe and joy and excitement, and we all felt we helped enlighten people that day. I felt we “came out of the closet” that day, proclaiming we are a welcoming place to work, and always have been.
Columbia Sportswear wore Diversitree shirts at the Portland Pride Parade last year.
This year, to make the march more impactful, I asked if we could make our Diversitree shirts available for purchase, so that we could give back some of the proceeds to a non-profit. Our company decided to donate $1 from every shirt. We’re also distributing special passes to our Employee Store, where customers can have 10% of their purchase amounts donated.
When asked who we could donate to and make a long term partnership with, I felt GLSEN was the perfect group that aligns with our values and efforts to help young people reach their full potential. But the main reason I thought of GLSEN is much more personal to our city. Last fall, Columbia Sportswear Company’s CEO Tim Boyle and his wife Mary backed a protest at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, when it appeared that the school was using a discriminatory policy of not hiring LGBT staff to condone the rescinding of a job offer to a lesbian counselor. Because of their stand and that of the parents, students and others in the community, St. Mary’s reversed their policy and now welcomes LGBT teachers and staff.
GLSEN’s mission to ensure every student, in every school, is valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is powerful and resonates with what we aim to do from our offices in Portland, Oregon. I hope Columbia’s partnership with GLSEN thrives for years to help create great change across the country.
I have worked towards equal rights since coming out as a minority myself in this country. Helping customers, friends and future employees see how welcoming Columbia Sportswear is made sense for me as someone who is trying to help reduce discrimination and misunderstanding in this country. One small step at a time.
Myra Lavenue is the Training Lead, Organizational Change Management, at Columbia Sportswear Company.
All corporations are invited to #ShowYourPride by partnering with GLSEN in achieving equality for LGBT students and respect for all in school. You can support GLSEN’s work by:
- Planning a joint marketing venture, similar to Columbia’s t-shirt sales, where the proceeds benefit GLSEN.
- Making a financial donation to fund GLSEN’s work locally, nationwide, or overseas.
- Sponsoring GLSEN’s Respect Awards gala dinners in New York and Los Angeles.
- Participating in GLSEN’s “Check 4” volunteer engagement program. We’ll train members of your LGBT ERG to talk with their colleagues who are parents of K-12 students. Parents learn how to make schools better for everyone’s children and take home a simple four question checklist.
For more information about any of these options, please contact David Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-388-6590.
June 23, 2016
June 22, 2016
We will forever mourn and memorialize the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando and will grieve the loss of safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ people for some time. As we begin to think about how to move forward and look ahead to the Pride events coming up in June and throughout the rest of the year, we are reminded of the importance of visible shows of support, whether in person or online.
When GLSEN began its work in 1990, people were only beginning to be out in K-12 settings—whether as LGBT themselves or as allies to LGBT people. Over the years, we've learned what a huge difference visible support at school makes in the lives of LGBTQ students. Indeed, GLSEN's most recent National School Climate Survey shows LGBTQ students who are able to identify supportive school staff feel safer at school and have better educational outcomes.
A visible show of pride in our identities and communities, whether LGBTQ, Latinx, Muslim or others under attack, has rarely been more urgent. Equally urgent is the need for action, to address the needs of those affected by violence and hate, and to fight back to eliminate those damaging forces in our society.
Join GLSEN and #ShowYourPride by updating your profile photo on Facebook and Twitter with these campaign frames:
June 22, 2016
Dear LGBTQ Youth,
I’m 33 years old, and my mother still tells me to “be safe” when I walk out of her house. In that moment, it’s like she’s seeing all the parts of me that add higher threat levels to my existence: queer, brown, deemed masculine presenting on sight, tattooed chubby dyke.
How many parents and guardians say the same words to their children as they walk out the door? How many of them see all the things they can’t protect us from as we exit the safety of their homes and are consumed by a vibrant but utterly chaotic world?
And that’s for those of us who have that type of love and support from our parents or guardians. That type of love and support is not a given for our LGBTQ community; it’s a luxury, just like the idea of safety.
Pulse. Orlando. 49 humans. LGBTQ. Allies. Puerto Ricans. Lovers. Sons. Siblings. Humans. Celebrating pride.
Celebrating because we as LGBTQ people have always been here, shining brightly, living out loud and in Technicolor, and we will continue to thrive.
Celebrating because what else can you do but find the glory and beauty in all the people who are blessed to be queer and brown? Because it’s Latinx night and all the world in this moment is yours.
Celebrating because our defiance is miraculous.
Because no matter what laws they pass or how many times the bigoted, violent forces come for us, we rally and push back with every ounce of our universe-given right to live free and out loud.
LGBTQ youth, know that we, LGBTQ adults and allies, strive to create safer schools and communities for you and with you.
Know that as hard as we try, we cannot 100% eradicate the recklessness and cruelty found in an often homophobic, racist, transphobic, anti-Black, anti-immigrant and pro-violence society.
Know that we use our spirits, our bodies and our work in every way possible to build hope and community for all of you.
The forces attempting to suppress and eliminate the LGBTQ community are strong and you should know this.
You probably already know this.
It probably already lives on your skin.
We learn about the world off the blood of our family members.
We are here with 49 people to mourn, and thousands of our community members grieving, mourning and afraid to go out and dance into the night.
So what do we do? How do we move forward in bravery when our lives are at risk?
How do we reclaim our community?
We must reach for each other.
We cannot shield you from the often harsh realities of this world, but we can hold tremendous healing spaces for each other.
We rally our GSAs and organize vigils in our schools.
We embrace the grief process. Let ourselves cry.
We find solace in each other so that our wounds can begin to heal.
We gather our friends and offer home-cooked meals.
We work on those zines about radical queerness, intersectionality and summer love.
We put on Pariah and find strength in Alike.
We write articles and blogs about ourselves, in our words because others cannot tell our stories for us.
We dive deep into our studies and our passions because no one can stop us from excelling.
We name our fears, our oppressors and all that must be changed.
We put pressure on school officials, city council people, senators and other folks in positions of power.
We take over bridges as we march for justice.
We must continue to do the work and strengthen our communities because they belong to us.
We must engage in all of this work while loving on each other and forcing the world to stretch with us, with our queer, trans, non-binary, asexual, bisexual, Latinx, Black, Muslim, Asian-Pacific Islander, Buddhist, Atheist, neurodivergent, totally glorious human selves.
So, let’s hold each other by the hand and say, “I love you”.
I love you because you’re my chosen family.
I love you because we just met on this dance floor, and I never knew my heart could feel so whole.
I love you because you’re brave enough to cry.
I love you because you are vibrant, visible and glowing with pride.
I love you enough to keep fighting and thriving.
I cannot make the world safer, but I can walk with you.
I will dance with you.
We will dance together.
Because we are Pulse, we are Orlando, and we will never forget our fallen siblings in the struggle.
Youth Programs Manager
June 20, 2016
Dear GLSEN family,
The last several days, as you might imagine, have been extremely difficult for us in Orlando and for the larger communities grieving at this time, as our hearts remain heavy after last Sunday’s tragedy. But I take comfort in sharing my experience with you and in knowing that across the country and world, we have each other’s support as we all move forward.
In Orlando, we feel a deep sense of grief but also an inspiring sense of solidarity. Last week, I attended one of many vigils honoring the victims of the tragedy. This vigil was as at Valencia College, where seven of the victims were students. Valencia’s GSA sponsor, whom GLSEN Orlando knows well, delivered beautiful remarks about the importance of creating safe spaces—off-the-cuff, genuine words that were exactly what we needed to hear. Her words were moving.
That same day, Thomas Lawson, a GLSEN Orlando Vice Chair, attended a press conference hosted by mayor Teresa Jacobs. A sense of solidarity was palpable there, too. Leaders of our communities—LGBT leaders, Latinx leaders, political leaders, leaders of faith—expressed not only their mourning but also their love. Especially now, it is truly encouraging to see diverse leaders come together and lend their voices of support.
As we move forward in the process of healing, which is only beginning, I hope that you, too, join us in solidarity. There are many ways to support:
- Attend a local vigil honoring the victims. We will forever memorialize the 49 LGBTQ and allied victims, most of whom were Latinx, we lost that night.
- Make a donation. Many fundraisers, such as the one by Equality Florida, are providing critical assistance to the victims’ families and the survivors. The OneOrlando Fund was also established in response to the tragedy to meet our community’s needs.
- Share resources. For folks directly affected in Orlando, the Camping World Stadium Family Assistance Center is providing a number of services and resources. For youth specifically, the Orlando Youth Alliance is a wonderful resource. GLSEN has also put together a short list of resources for educators across the country.
- Show your pride. I deeply appreciate seeing photos from LGBT Pride parades where people are showing their solidarity with us. Please continue showing your pride in your identities and communities—it is courageous and inspiring.
Thank you so much for the incredible support at this time. I don’t think you know how much it means.
Chair of GLSEN Orlando
June 17, 2016
Para la familia GLSEN,
Anoche en el Stonewall Inn aquí en la ciudad de Nueva York, y en miles de vigilias similares en todo el país, la gente se reunió en memoria de las víctimas del ataque club nocturno Pulse en la ciudad de Orlando. En tiempos de crisis, buscamos oportunidades para estar juntos, para conectarnos con los demás, y que sea visible nuestro duelo y nuestra determinación de superarnos.
La pérdida de las 49 personas fallecidas y las decenas de heridos, en el club Pulse ocurrido el domingo es casi más de lo que podemos soportar. La mayoría de las víctimas eran LGBTQ. La mayoría de las víctimas eran latinos. Muchos eran recién graduados de la escuela secundaria. El autor ha sido identificado como musulmán, y para muchos participantes musulmanes en estas vigilias, el duelo se mezcla con el miedo de asalto verbal o venganza violenta. No podemos permitir que eso ocurra en nuestra guardia.
En su mejor momento, cuando todos los que se reúnen son conscientes de su propósito común, estas reuniones pueden ayudar a sanar, y demostrar nuestra capacidad de crear poder en la comunidad a pesar de nuestras diferencias.
Nuestros mejores instintos en estos momentos es imitar lo que los educadores aprenden a hacer para ayudar a los estudiantes después de de una tragedia o un trauma. La Asociación Americana de Consejeros Escolares sugiere que cuando el miedo, la violencia o el odio destrozan comunidades escolares, los educadores deben "reconstruir y reafirmar lazos y relaciones" con el fin de restablecer un sentido de conexión, y "hacer frente a su propia reacción ante una crisis y el estrés "con el fin de ser capases de ayudar a sanar a comunidad abatida.
En nuestro trabajo a través los años, hemos creado una organización dedicada a construir conexiones por medio de nuestras diferencias, fomentando el respeto para todos, y, quizá sobre todo, dedicado al poder de transformación de las comunidades de aprendizaje donde se valora y se respeta a cada estudiante exactamente quienes son. Hemos sido testigos del poder de los líderes estudiantiles educando a tales comunidades, sabemos por qué todo este trabajo vale la pena.
En este momento de dolor y luto, todos nosotros en GLSEN, tenemos una contribución importante que hacer.
Ya sea un educador, estudiante, líder de zona, o un donante, estos eventos trágicos hacen un llamado a cada uno de nosotros para apoyarnos mutuamente en nuestro dolor, para construir una comunidad con aquellos de otras comunidades, y colectivamente encontrar la fuerza para continuar adelante con trabajo.
Juntos, y solamente unidos, podemos crear escuelas, y un mundo con igualdad y respeto para todos.
PD. Si desea encontrar u organizar una vigilia en su área, visite www.weareorlando.org.
June 14, 2016
To the GLSEN Family,
Last night at the Stonewall Inn here in New York City, and at thousands of similar vigils around the country, people came together in remembrance of the victims of the attack at Pulse in Orlando. In times of crisis, we seek opportunities to be together, to connect with others, and to be visible in our mourning and our determination to overcome.
The loss of the 49 people killed, with dozens more injured, at Pulse's Latin Night on Sunday is almost more than we can take. Most of the victims were LGBTQ. Most of the victims were Latino. Many were barely out of high school. The perpetrator has been identified as Muslim, and for many Muslim participants in these vigils, mourning is mixed with fear of verbal assault or violent retaliation. We cannot allow that to happen on our watch.
At their best, when all who gather are mindful of their common purpose, these gatherings can help us heal, and demonstrate our ability to create power in community despite our differences.
Our best instincts in these moments mirror what educators learn they must do for students in the aftermath of tragedy or trauma. The American Association of School Counselors suggests that when fear, violence, or hate rip school communities apart, educators must “rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships” in order to reestablish a sense of connection, and "deal with their own response to crisis and stress" in order to be able to help repair broken community.
In our work together over the years, all of us have created an organization dedicated to building connections across lines of difference, promoting respect for all, and, perhaps above all, dedicated to the transformative power of learning communities where every single student is valued and respected for exactly who they are. And as we have witnessed the power of the student leaders nurtured in such communities, we know why all that hard work is worth it.
At this moment of pain and mourning, we all, as GLSEN, have an important contribution to make.
Whether an educator, student, chapter leader, or donor, these tragic events call upon each of us to support one another in our grief, to build community with those from other communities, and collectively find resilience for the work ahead.
Together, and only together, can we create schools, and a world, with equality and respect for all.
ps. If you would like to find or organize a vigil in your area, visit www.weareorlando.org.
June 12, 2016
For those needing additional support, there are several agencies and hotlines offering their services:
Your school or district may have specific guidelines to follow after traumatic events. There are also organizations who have developed resources for schools to use in the wake of any crisis:
Vigils across the country are being held in remembrance of the victims of the shooting and can be found, or submitted, to weareorlando.org. You can also find current information about how best to help those directly impacted by the shooting.
GLSEN Director of Education & Youth Programs