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October 22, 2010

>GLSEN is pleased to announce that Google has joined that Safe Schools Movement as the newest GLSEN National Corporate partner, and released the following blog posting today in support of our work.

We believe the Internet can provide a safe space and resources for youth who are struggling with their identity and looking for help. And we’ve been happy to see products like YouTube being used to deliver messages of hope. There are many organizations out there doing an extraordinary job providing resources for LGBTQ youth, and we wanted to highlight a few as part of GLSEN’s National Ally Week: Trevor Project, GroundSpark’s Respect for All Project, the YouTube “It Gets Better” project and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. GLSEN’s Safe Space campaign page provides resources and support for educators, policy makers, community leaders and students to take action to make a positive difference. We recently made a $50,000 donation to the Trevor Project, in support of the Levi’s Challenge Grant announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show—they will be matching up to $50,000 dollars in donations to the Trevor Project. We’ve also donated to GroundSpark and GLSEN. We hope that other companies and individuals will
consider doing the same.

This announcement comes on the heels of a significant financial commitment from Deutsche Bank. They join the ranks of longterm partners like Cisco, Wells Fargo and IBM who are making a positive impact in the lives of students nationwide. GLSEN commends the brave and bold stance these corporations are taking. We are seeing an outpouring of support from all walks of life — from the cast of Modern Family to the single mother of three in Springfield, Mass. — from the It Gets Better Project to the President of the United States. Please join us in our efforts to put an end to bullying and harassment once and for all at

Google employees' It Gets Better video:

October 22, 2010

>I am so humbled by the attention my story has received in the past week, and grateful for all of the personal words of encouragement. Rightly, the focus will soon move from my story to the opportunity to galvanize all the support and love into action for those young people who are currently struggling.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth need hope for the future and help today. That’s why GLSEN’s work is so important. And that's why I'm asking you to take action now.

Visible adult support - at home, in school, in the community - is one of the most important lines of defense for a young person in crisis. GLSEN's Safe Space Campaign is designed to build that crucial lifeline in schools.

I urge you to visit the Safe Space website to take part in this campaign and send a Safe Space Kit to the school you attended, or that your child attends, or another school that you care about. With a Safe Space sticker to make supportive adults visible to the students who need them but may be too afraid to ask, and a guide to improve school climate for LGBT students, the Safe Space Kit helps concerned adults make a difference.

As I shared in my words last week, adults cannot look aside as young people struggle. The issue of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment is personal for me and must end. Click below to watch a PSA I have filmed for GLSEN to help get the message out.

The good news is that there are things we can do to help. Please visit GLSEN's website to learn more. Thank you to all of those who are doing their best every day, and for taking action now.

Councilman Joel Burns
Fort Worth, Texas

P.S. Join me in taking action; visit GLSEN's Safe Space Campaign website and send a Safe Space Kit to your local school today. I also would love for you to keep in touch with me; please visit


October 22, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. We received this story of all-ages, school-wide Ally Week action from the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School, an independent school in New York City, NY.

If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at


LREI Students Take Action During Ally Week

Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School is an independent school in the West Village section of NYC. It was founded in the late 1920‘s by Elisabeth Irwin. She was committed to encouraging students to take action within their communities and they have been doing so for decades.

When teachers from the Four Year Old class through the High School spoke to students about Ally Week, many students were ready to take matters into their own hands. Students were encouraging their parents to grab an Ally Sticker on their way to work.

First Graders were generating a game plan for what to say when the time came for them to stand up for others. Leading up to Ally Week, our first graders talked about what it means to be an Ally, framing the conversation around what it means to be a friend. Some children push and tease and bully, our teachers explained, and sometimes they hurt other kids by ignoring them. Our teachers stressed the fact that kids can make a difference in situations like these. Being an Ally means speaking up!

The children brainstormed ways to stand up for their friends, then created speech bubbles. Specifically, these are scripts of what to say on the playground. The first graders also role played about what they learned and made cut-paper collages in art class.

An 8th grade student informed her 5th through 8th grade peers at their weekly Middle School Meeting that Facebook friends were encouraging people to wear purple on October 20. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s what this youth wanted to promote at our school, spirit for all. Upon hearing this, another middle schooler realized that some students and faculty who may want to participate may not actually own an item of purple clothing. She was inspired to make purple ribbon pins which she then distributed on Wednesday, October 20.

Third Graders, while on a farm trip for the week, learned about the different colors on the LGBT flag and made purple wrist bands with construction paper to wear on October 20. While looking around the Farm for tape, one student said, “Why don’t we use the Ally Stickers instead of tape,” and the idea spread.

Our goal is simple, start the year reminding students, families and faculty of the importance of being an Ally. Start when they are young and remind them every year. The rest of the year, practice, practice, practice. One day, when they hear LGBT bullying or slurs, when someone they know (or don’t know) is being teased for who they are, we want our students to know what to do. For LREI students, taking action is a part of their learning. It’s a part of their life.


Click here for information on how educators can support Ally Week.

October 21, 2010


President Barack Obama has just issued a video message speaking directly to young people, offering reassurance and hope to those suffering because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or simply because of being different. The President’s empathy and concern, so clearly and directly expressed, is an historic contribution to the outpouring of support for LGBT youth we have seen over the past few weeks.

We thank President Obama for this critical message. LGBT youth everywhere must hear his words loud and clear: “There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are.” We also appreciate the steps that the Administration has taken to address the needs of LGBT young people and reduce bullying and harassment through work done in various federal agencies, including the CDC and the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services.

Now our attention will turn to those additional concrete ways in which the President himself has the power to make things better, for today and for the future. Sustained federal leadership on these issues is absolutely essential to reassert the fundamental culture of respect that must prevail in our schools. We need the President’s clear endorsement of the vital principles embodied in the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. GLSEN will continue to work closely with the Administration to achieve this goal and to forge further progress at the agency level.

As the current crisis tragically illustrates, far too many school districts have not taken the actions needed to protect all students. And the tenor of public debate in this country stands in the way of effective local action and finding common ground. At times like these, on the difficult issues that really matter, Presidential leadership is paramount.

The President himself says in his message that, on an individual level, young people will find that their “differences are a source of pride and a source of strength,” and that, as a society, “the freedom to not fit in… to be true to ourselves, that’s the freedom that enriches all of us, that’s what America is all about.” These are exactly the ideals that are currently under siege. Whether it is from the schoolyard bully singling out a vulnerable classmate, or from a major-party candidate spewing anti-LGBT vitriol, the young people whom the President seeks to reach face a barrage of negative messages that can drive them to alienation and despair. They need his words, delivered now in this message, and they also need his actions.

Eliza Byard

GLSEN Executive Director


Please take a moment to thank President Obama for recognizing the challenges that LGBT youth face. Below is a link to the White House web site and a sample message you can send to the President—feel free to incorporate a personal message.

Sample Message

Subject: I appreciate your support of LGBT youth


Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your recent message to America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Through the power of your voice you are giving hope to many youth who may experience bullying, harassment and discrimination in their schools, homes or communities. I appreciate your strong support for LGBT youth and encourage you to continue to do as much as you can to help improve the lives of all youth.


October 21, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. The Yulee High School GSA submitted this message and public service announcement video about bullying, the product of a class project.

If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at


At Yulee High School in Yulee, Fl, the two-year-old GSA is sponsoring it's first Ally Week. When the word went out to the faculty about the event, TV Production teacher Ashely Guinn showed what having an Ally really means. Guinn divided her students into five groups and had each group create its own anti-bullying public service announcement video to be played for the whole school during morning announcements each day during Ally Week. This unsolicited action by a teacher Ally and her students captured the heart of what Ally Week is all about.

October 20, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. Claire from Bothell, WA, submitted this video about organizing a GSA in her school. If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at




If you would like to start a GSA in your school, go to and download the Jump Start Guide, with instructions on how you can organize your own student club!

October 19, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. Seventeen-year-old Adrien, a queer transmale student in Washburn, WI, has this story to tell about why allies are important to him. If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at


I realize that the school I attend is probably on the safe side, but without the safety net of the students and faculty that support me, I have no idea where I would be. As a queer, transmale student in a rural high school in northern Wisconsin, I will stand on the rooftops to scream how important allies are to me. During the second semester of my freshman year in high school, I began further exploring my gender identity, transitioning slowly from female to genderqueer to male.

In the years that have followed, I have taught, simply through my existence, the students and staff surrounding me about the fluidity of gender. The journey has not been easy. My mom has been my biggest ally. She has been my backbone, my support group, my cheerleader, and sometimes, the one thing that keeps me pushing through. The encouragement my allies give me is phenomenal. Some days, the only thing that makes the journey easier is the people that continue to hold me up.

When my mom and I were lobbying in Washington, D.C. with GLSEN for the Safe School Advocacy Summit in March of 2009, we both wore GLSEN pins. Every representative that we talked to, my mother would point at her pin and say, “Straight is the heart of GLSEN.” Allies can help our voices be heard.

I have a couple things to say to you allies out there. First and foremost, remember this: while you support your LGBT friends, try to be as proactive as you can be. If you hear someone saying “that’s so gay,” don’t just let it go unnoticed. Being a bystander can sometimes be as bad as being the bully. But most importantly, I want to say thank you. Without your support, some of us have a hard time pushing through. I appreciate everything you do, and so does my mom.


If you'd like more information on how you can be a better Ally to transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in schools, download the Ally Week guide: Be an Ally to Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students.

October 18, 2010

>All during Ally Week we'll be highlighting stories about allies as part of the Ally Week story contest. Nowmee is a GLSEN Ambassador and made this fantastic video for Ally Week. Check it out! If you have an Ally Week story you want to share, email us at

October 17, 2010

>We want to make sure that everyone knows about Ally Week, so we’re having an #AllyWeek Twitter Contest! The contest ends at 5:00 PM ET (2:00 PM PT) Friday, October 22. Five Winners will get an Ally Week T-shirt, wristband, and two great films you can show to your GSA: Brother Outsider and Out in the Silence!

Each time you tweet about Ally Week can get you closer to winning! Here are the rules!

    1. All tweets must have the #AllyWeek hash tag to be counted.


  1. Tweets that consist of only "#allyweek" and nothing else will only be accepted once an hour.

    Example: dayofsilence: #allyweek #allyweek #allyweek = 1PT

  2. Tweets containing Ally Week, not the number of times you mention Ally Week within your tweets.

    Example: dayofsilence: OMG I just got 47 more pledges for Ally Week! Ally Week is so great, I love Ally Week! #allyweek = 1PT

  3. Tweets must be ABOUT ally week:

    Doesn’t count: dayofsilence: It’s gloomy outside and looks like it might rain, and I’m worried soccer practice will be cancelled #allyweek. = 0PT
    Counts: dayofsilence: It’s gloomy outside and looks like it might rain, and I’m worried that our #allyweek activity will be cancelled. = 1PT

  4. You can only retweet another’s Ally Week post only once.

If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Ally Week please email us at

October 17, 2010


Ally Week is almost here!

Ally Week, October 18-22, is a week for students to organize events that serve to identify, support and celebrate Allies to LGBT youth. Whether you’ve been planning for weeks or are just getting started now, there are plenty of things you can do for Ally Week!

  • MAKE SURE TO REGISTER your participation in Ally Week so we can have an accurate number of how many people participated. Click here to register!
  • Spread the word on Facebook! Change your status to one of the following:
    • I’m proud to be an Ally to LGBT youth! Celebrate Ally Week, Oct 18-22. Learn more at
    • Be an Ally. Be the Change. Celebrate Ally Week, Oct 18-22. Learn more at

  • Spread the word on Twitter! Tweet about your Ally Week experience using the #AllyWeek hash tag to spread the word! And see about the #AllyWeek Twitter Contest below!
  • Don’t have anything planned? You can still participate! Check out the Ally Week Action guide or 10 Things You Can Do for Ally Week, both available at
  • Be visible! Yellow is the official AW color, so if everyone participating wears yellow you'll be sure to stand out. And don’t forget t-shirts, buttons, stickers, face-paint—these are all ways you can help draw attention to your action.
  • Be respectful! Ally Week is about ending anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in school. To do this, it's important to treat people with respect. There are likely people at your school who will try to challenge your activities or your beliefs. Treat these people not as they treat you but with the same respect you hope to be treated with. Remember, Ally Week is a peaceful action!

If you have any questions or ideas, or if you want to tell us what you’re planning for your Ally Week please email us at