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October 20, 2009

>UPDATE: Video doesn't seem to be working. Try this link:


October 19, 2009


From the GLSEN press release:

Thousands of students across the country this week are pledging to address anti-gay bullying as part of GLSEN’s fifth annual Ally Week, a week of activities designed to encourage people to be allies against anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment at school.

Ally Week, which was created by students as a way to encourage and support allies, is often organized by the more than 4,000 Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs registered with GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education network.

Also, here's a clip of GLSEN Student Ambassador Lazaro Cardenas at the GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles on Oct. 9 talking about why he's an ally.


You can sign the official Ally Week pledge here to be an Ally against anti-LGBT bullying.

October 16, 2009

>A message for GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard:

GLSEN’s already historic PSA campaign will make history once again tonight. One of our groundbreaking commercials, featuring Hilary Duff, will air during the season premiere of Ugly Betty on ABC-TV.

This is an exciting and important showcase for GLSEN’s message. Millions will be watching tonight. I hope that you will make it a few more, by watching our ad tonight during Ugly Betty between 8:00-10:00 pm (Eastern/Pacific) or 7:00-9:00 (Central).

What is the ThinkB4YouSpeak Campaign? Last year, GLSEN partnered with the Ad Council to develop a powerful PSA campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in America’s schools.

The Ad Council is known for timely and effective public service messages like their famous Smokey the Bear campaign and the well-known “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” commercials. The goal of ThinkB4YouSpeak is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults – including school personnel and parents – whose support of this message is crucial its success.

Be Sure to Watch the ThinkB4YouSpeak PSA on Ugly Betty Tonight!

So, if you’re a fan of Ugly Betty, you probably know that the character “Justin,” Betty’s nephew, is exploring the challenges of being a teen. Now that he’s in high school, we’ll see how Justin copes with his emotions, fears and relationships, both at school and at home. Countless “Justins” from schools across the country will tune in to Ugly Betty tonight and know that you and I – and the entire GLSEN community – are on their side.

October 16, 2009

>As we celebrate the year anniversary of the launch of the GLSEN/Ad Council PSA campaign, Think Before You Speak, let's take a look at how some students used the materials to create their own in-school campaign. GLSEN's organizational video about our work to raise awareness of anti-LGBT behavior highlights the campaign and the efforts of the members of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Chillicothe (Ohio) High School:


October 15, 2009

>Guest post from Bryan Pacheco, GLSEN's Public Ally in our Community Initiatives Department:

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month. The purpose of this month is to reflect and honor the contributions of the larger Hispanic community in the United States. GLBT History Month is also during October. This should get us thinking: how do Hispanic and Latino/a identities intersect with LGBT identities?

Hispanic and Latino/a LGBT people have made immense contributions to the LGBT movement. One individual who comes to mind is Sylvia Rivera, who was a Venezuelan and Puerto Rican trans woman who grew up homeless. Sylvia participated in what is often seen as the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement - the Stonewall Riots of 1969 - and among other things, dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of homeless youth in Hispanic and LGBT communities. Her identities and experiences became the framework for what she would devote her life to.

All of our identities are constantly intersecting, and can inspire our work and life focus, as it did for Sylvia. For instance, maybe you are a student and LGBT, and those identities, and the experiences that you have because of them, inspire you to lead a GSA in your school. You can't separate the two identities and nor should you.

We should celebrate the intersection of Hispanic Heritage Month and GLBT History month by seeing how our identities complement one another. Let’s not honor the events separately. Let’s honor them together and see how each can make the other more powerful.

October 14, 2009

>Dear GLSEN friends and colleagues:

I imagine that you are aware of recent coverage of renewed attacks on GLSEN’s founder, Kevin Jennings, now serving as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

For the most part, coverage of these attacks has focused on the ongoing battle between conservative activists and the Obama administration. I want you all to be aware of another critical aspect of this story, one that has not received sufficient public attention, but that has been very important to me as we monitor the situation.

As old news has been recycled into current controversy, those who actually know Kevin and GLSEN and understand the nature and purpose of our work have risen to Kevin’s defense, speaking out about the importance and positive impact of our efforts on behalf of American students.

Public statements from some of our long-time partners in the education world can be found via these links:

  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • Learning First Alliance
  • National Education Association
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • Social Workers Association of America
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • In the midst of all of this, I take heart in the fact that we are making a positive difference in the lives of young people everywhere – and that anyone who actually knows our work and cares about this nation’s schools is well aware of that fact. At GLSEN we are focused on making a difference for young people, contributing to better educational outcomes and to realizing our vision of a better future for all students.

    I thank you so much for your support, both now and throughout GLSEN’s history.



    Eliza Byard, PhD
    Executive Director

    Should you have any questions about the specific attacks against Kevin, Media Matters for America has been factually reporting the story, checking the facts and posting them as the right-wing attacks shift from one inaccurate charge to another. For crucial information regarding the truth, visit: Media Matters

    October 12, 2009


    Check out a few photos from the red carpet at Friday's fifth annual GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles:

    Melissa Joan Hart and Kelly Osbourne swap dance partners, Kelly with Make Ballas and Mellisa with Louis van Amstel.

    HBO executive Michael Lombardo (right), who accepted the Corporate Role Model Respect Award on HBO's behalf, with "True Blood" creater Alan Ball and stars Sam Trammell (left) and Michelle Forbes.

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with the real stars of the GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles, Student Advocate of the Year Austin Laufersweiler, Lazaro Cardenas, Nik Castillo, Maru Gonzalez, Dianna Lopez, Dominique Walker and Sirdeaner Walker.

    More photos to come ...

    October 12, 2009

    >Entertainment Tonight was one of 30 media outlets to cover the red carpet at the fifth annual GLSEN Respect Awards - Los Angeles. Check out ET's report below with interviews from Melissa Joan Hart, Sara Ramirez, Chandra Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Debbie Mazar and more:

    September 29, 2009

    >In the summer of 2009, we launched a nationwide search to find a student advocate who represented the ideals of GLSEN and our mission to end bullying and harassment in schools. This award honors an outstanding young person whose efforts have helped ensure a safe learning environment for all students—and have served as a voice of change in their school and their community.

    The response was both heartwarming, and overwhelming. We received deserving nominations from nearly every state in the union, from large schools and small, urban and rural. Tonight we congratulate each and every student who is doing this life-changing work—and we honor the one who rose to the top.
    Meet our Student Advocate of the Year!
    Austin Laufersweiler
    GLSEN is pleased to present the inaugural Student Advocate of the Year Award, presented by AT&T, to Austin Laufersweiler, from Marrietta, Georgia. As a high school sophomore, Austin was the target of anti-gay bullying at his school, which served as a catalyst for his advocacy efforts. Since then, Austin has worked relentlessly as an advocate for equality and safety in his school, as well as in his community. As the founder of his high school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance, he spearheaded the organization of the Day of Silence, which sparked dialogue around LGBT issues among students and teachers.
    Austin went on to create a safe-space training for teachers, to provide the tools for educators to appropriately and effectively intervene to anti-gay remarks, specifically “that’s so gay.” Austin used materials from the GLSEN/Ad Council ThinkB4YouSpeak campaign to develop the training, which attracted over 40 educators as well as demand for additional trainings. And he has worked with his school’s administration throughout the year to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that explicitly provides protection by enumerating personal characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
    He also spoke at a Town Hall meeting for the Coalition Against Bullying. The gathering was designed to bring together students who were affected by the death of Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old from Dekalb County, Georgia, who took his own life after enduring anti-gay harassment in school.
    Respected by students and teachers alike, Austin’s leadership and compassion make him a role model and inspiration for others who seek change.
    Meet the Other Finalists
    Ruby Lazo
    Ruby is a senior at the Met Center High School in Providence, Rhode Island. Since middle school, Ruby has worked with YouthPride, a statewide nonprofit that provides support, advocacy and education for Rhode Island LGBTQQ youth. As a member of OUTSpoken, a program dedicated to community education, Ruby has been presenting at schools and colleges about homophobia and how to make schools safer. Last year, Ruby organized the national Day of Silence that yielded 200 participants. The event was so powerful that she has inspired other Providence schools to take part in next year’s Day of Silence.
    Sam Cramer
    After founding a GSA in her middle school in Albany, New York, Sam took over her high school’s GSA in her sophomore year and has been president since, rebuilding and growing the club. Last year Sam led the Ally Week charge, getting over 200 participants. In addition, as her school was closed on this year’s Day of Silence, Sam organized her own “Breaking the Silence” the following week and created a video of the students’ experiences of that day. Sam also works with the GLSEN New York Capital Region chapter and is a former GLSEN Jump-Start student.
    Rory Mann
    A junior at the Paul Crowley Met School in Providence, RI, Rory has embraced her second-chance high school experience after a year of being bullied and harassed to the point where she didn’t feel comfortable going to school anymore and so she had to re-do 9th grade. At this new school, Rory started a GSA, done a number of presentations at her school about the effects of anti-LGBT slurs and how not to alienate LGBT peers, created her own ThinkB4YouSpeak video about not saying ‘that’s so gay,’ and pushed the school’s administration to think more broadly about the curriculum.