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Students at Thousands of Schools to Pledge to Become Allies

Daryl Presgraves
Director of Communications

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2013 – Today is the beginning of GLSEN's Ally Week, with thousands of students across the country pledging to be allies to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and make schools safer for all.

Founded in 2005 by GLSEN student leaders, Ally Week was created for Gay-Straight Alliance clubs (GSAs) and student leaders to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in their schools and local communities

“GLSEN’s Ally Week plays an integral role in helping LGBT students know they have classmates and educators who support them, and helps students learn that visible allies truly do make a difference,” said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. “Ally Week is also an opportunity for those of us who are not in school to support the effort to ensure safe and affirming environments for LGBT students.

Students participating in Ally Week from October 21-25 organize a variety of activities throughout the week. Students commonly encourage their peers to take the Ally Week pledge by signing a card in their school or online at

Ally Week participants pledge to:

  • Not use anti-LGBT language or slurs;
  • Intervene, if they 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. The theme of this year’s Ally Week is “Better Allies,” encouraging allies to learn even more about how they can support LGBT youth, transgender and gender nonconforming youth, and youth of color.

“Visible allies are incredibly important,” said Laila Al-Shamma, a high school senior from Carlsbad, Calif., and GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year, who was honored at GLSEN’s Respect Awards – Los Angeles on Friday. “When allies are visibly supportive, the effect is tremendous. It was the allies in my life who gave me the confidence to come out.”

GLSEN has created a set of Ally Week engagement tools for students to use in school and on the go, including nametags, shareable images, pledge cards and thank-you cards. GLSEN’s new “How to Be a Better Ally” resources also provide specific steps to becoming better allies to LGBT youth, transgender and gender nonconforming youth, and youth of color, starting with tasks that take only a minute to complete

Additionally, GLSEN is encouraging Ally Week participants, including adult allies, to show support for LGBT youth on social media using #AllyWeek and/or through asking their Representatives and Senators to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act, federal legislation that would require schools to implement LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies. Learn how to take action here.

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.

Follow GLSEN's Ally Week online! You can find us on Twitter at @glsen. Use the Twitter hashtags #AllyWeek and #BetterAllies.

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