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The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike.
We recognize that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and we support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.
GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community. We welcome any and all individuals as members, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or occupation, who are committed to seeing this philosophy realized in K-12 schools.
Our Commitment to Diversity
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, in our mission to create safe schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, is dedicated to fostering a work environment and designing programs and resources that are inclusive and celebratory of diversity, and sensitive to the role of power and privilege in society.
GLSEN recognizes that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are interconnected with other forms of oppression — a relationship that serves to sustain, enforce and amplify the individual and collective effects of these forces, and challenges efforts to address any one of them. In response, GLSEN actively works to understand and address how these forces intersect and operate to undermine a safe and healthy climate in K-12 schools and within our own organization.
GLSEN's work in this area begins internally, with staff and organizational culture. GLSEN values the experience and knowledge that a diverse and engaged staff brings to our work, and recognizes the necessity of maintaining a network of staff, board members, chapter members, student leaders and volunteers that is reflective of and accountable to the communities that we serve. People who are commonly marginalized in society — including people of diverse sexual orientations, transgender and gender non-conforming people, people of color, women, intersex people and people of diverse abilities, national origins, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and spiritual experiences — are valued contributors to the life of the organization, and we seek to include them in all areas of GLSEN's organizational structure. This commitment includes attention to positions of leadership and management. GLSEN strives to create a healthy work environment for our staff and volunteers by fostering the development of cultural competency to improve our work climate and better advance the organization's mission.
GLSEN applies this commitment to diversity and increased cultural competence to our programs and outreach, developing and carrying out our advocacy, leadership development, coalition building, research, education, resource development and fundraising efforts in ways designed to incorporate a diverse base of allies and advance safe schools issues in all communities. GLSEN is committed to learning about the unique needs of our constituents, so that we can effectively support them in their safe schools advocacy, and advocate for safe schools legislation, policies and interventions that are effective for members of different and overlapping communities.
GLSEN understands that our work around diversity is an on-going process, and will continue to prioritize the learning, dialogue and reevaluation that are central to the advancement of our work and mission.
Our Public Policy Platform
GLSEN is governed by a national board of directors who are ultimately responsible for the organization. The Board establishes GLSEN's mission, strategic imperatives, and public policy platform. The Board hires the Executive Director and delegates the development and implementation of programs to fulfill these objectives to him or her and the staff he or she hires.
GLSEN believes that a quality Kindergarten through 12th grade education is a fundamental right in a democratic society, and calls upon federal, state and local governments to adequately fund K-12 public schools so that all students have access to a quality, discrimination-free education in their communities. GLSEN advocates for the following, with the understanding that adequate funding helps to enhance the efforts to achieve these goals:
GLSEN affirms the right of all students in publicly-funded K-12 schools to an education free of discrimination and harassment, and calls upon public policy making bodies to ensure equal educational access by adopting and enforcing measurable non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN affirms the right of all students in parochial and private/independent schools to an education free from discrimination and harassment and calls upon the boards and administrators of these schools to ensure equal educational access by adopting and enforcing measurable non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN believes that learning about the diversity of humankind is an essential part of education in a democratic society, and affirms the right of students to learn in classroom environments that nurture diversity. GLSEN encourages schools to allow students in all grade levels access to curricula, trainings, texts and materials -- in all areas including but not limited to, history, literature, family life, sexuality and health education -- that are relevant, comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically-accurate and inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. GLSEN calls upon public policy makers to remove any prohibitive laws that forbid or discourage in-school discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN affirms the right of all students to participate safely and fully in all aspects of school life, including, but not limited to, school-sponsored co-curricular and extra-curricular programs and activities such as athletics, clubs, and school programs. GLSEN encourages the adoption of policies, procedures and trainings that ensure that these opportunities are made accessible to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
GLSEN affirms the right of all students to have accurate information relating to LGBT people, history, culture and ideas, and to have access to such information through school libraries, guidance, health services and all other resources. GLSEN encourages the adoption of policies, procedures and trainings that ensure that these educational opportunities are made accessible to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
GLSEN values the extraordinary leadership of young people and affirms the right of students to organize and lead school-supported Gay-Straight Alliances and other appropriate groups that address LGBT issues in schools.
GLSEN believes that all school employees need pre-service and in-service training that includes accurate information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and people. GLSEN calls upon boards and administrators to provide these trainings for current school employees and those studying to enter the profession as part of comprehensive training.
GLSEN understands that all school employees best serve students when they have workplaces that are free from discrimination and harassment. GLSEN calls upon public policy makers to adopt and enforce measurable non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN supports the rights of all parents/families to participate in their children's school activities and calls upon public policy makers and school officials to adopt and enforce practices that recognize and support diverse families.