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About Ally Week

What is GLSEN's Ally Week?

Ally Week is a student-organized action, powered by Gay-Straight Alliances and supported by GLSEN, taking place September 26 – 30, 2016.

Ally Week is an opportunity for students to engage in a national conversation about the meaning of allyship. Ally Week is for everyone: straight and cisgender allies to LGBT youth are encouraged to learn about what actions they can take to support their LGBT peers, while LGBT youth can learn about how to support one another's overlapping, intersecting identities. 

What is an ally?

An ally is a person who takes demonstrable action supporting members of a marginalized group with which they do not identify. GLSEN's Ally Week focuses on allyship for LGBT youth, who face disproportionate bullying, harassment and discrimination in K-12 schools. It is generally understood that an ally does not identify as LGBT; however, LGBT youth can certainly be allies to one another, as well as to members of marginalized groups whose identities they don't share. For example, cisgender LGB students can always learn more about being allies to transgender or gender nonconforming students, and white LGBT students can learn about being allies to LGBT students of color. 

What if I'm an educator ally?

Educator allies are great! GLSEN's research has shown that LGBT students felt safer at school, earned better grades, showed better school attendance, and felt more connected to their school communities when they could identify LGBT-supportive educators. We've created some educator-specific resources you can use to help your students have a powerful, thought-provoking Ally Week. 

Click here to learn about how you can participate in Ally Week as an educator!  

Do any organizations support Ally Week?

Yes! Lots of them, actually. Click here to see our growing list of Ally Week Endorsers and to learn how your organization can become an Endorser! 

Who started Ally Week?

In 2005, members of GLSEN's Jump-Start National Student Leadership Team came up with an idea to celebrate allies committed to ensuring safe and effective schools for all, and to encourage students to take action to support LGBT students. The idea turned into the first Ally Week celebrated in schools nationwide in October 2005.

What is GLSEN?

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

Why do we need an Ally Week?

The unfortunate truth is that anti-LGBT bullying, violence and harassment are commonplace in U.S. schools. Actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression are two of the top three reasons teens report that students are harassed at their schools, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a GLSEN-commissioned report by Harris Interactive. In other words, all students perceive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment as a serious problem in their schools. The vast majority of these same students said their schools would be better of if this issue was better addressed. GLSEN's 2013 National School Climate Survey found that eight out of ten LGBT students report experiencing verbal harassment at school because of their sexual orientation, six out of ten because of their gender expression, and nearly 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. GLSEN's Ally Week brings us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in schools. We want to ensure that all allies understand the important role they play in making schools safer for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. 

What do we do after Ally Week is over?

GLSEN's Ally Week is just one week of a round-the-clock effort to create safe schools for all students. You can take action all year long to help make your school safer. Start by visiting our Student Action page, where you can get information on other organizing tools, GLSEN programs, and ideas for ways to make your school a safer place! 

Also, make sure to check out the other GLSEN programs, including the Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, and Changing the Game, GLSEN's sports project.

Other resources:

Like the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page to connect with other student organizers, ask questions, discuss Ally Week ideas and get up-to-date news from GLSEN staff!

The GLSEN store is your one-stop shop for Ally Week merch and other GLSEN gear, like t-shirts, buttons, stickers, posters and wristbands.

The National Day of Silence (April 21, 2017) is a student-led action in which students take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Hundreds of thousands of students across the country and around the world will take part to educate their schools and communities and to encourage others to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior in schools.

GLSEN Research: The 2013 National School Climate Survey, a survey of about 8,000 middle and high school students, is GLSEN's 8th biennial report on the school experiences of LGBT youth in schools, including the in-school resources that support LGBT students’ well-being, the extent of the challenges that they face at school, and insights into many other aspects of LGBT students’ experiences.