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An Inspiring Leader, a RemarkableTeacher

Record-Breaking Day of Silence

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ueled by the tragic murder of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old from Oxnard, California, who was shot and killed at his middle school on February 12, GLSEN mobilized unparalled efforts online, in Congress, and in communities nationwide to honor his memory and inspire widespread participation in our 12th annual Day of Silence, to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. In February and March, GLSEN chapters across the country held candlelight vigils in memory of King–see page 7–and GLSEN quickly created new outlets for young people to connect and mobilize through Facebook and MySpace. On April 23, representatives Lois Capps (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sam Farr (D-CA) gave powerful speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives to urge support of the Day of Silence Resolution. There are now 38 co-sponsors of the resolution; representatives Capps and Baldwin were the lead co-sponsors, along with Eliot Engel (D-NY). At middle and high schools across the country, 18,801 students, 7,727 schools and 1,290 student clubs registered at the Day of Silence website, which received approximately 750,000 page views over these months. GLSEN’s online presence reached new prominence. Popular celebrity blogger Perez Hilton spotlighted the Day of Silence and linked directly to GLSEN’s public service announcement featuring CNN’s Larry King, capturing close to 68,000 views. continued on page 6

s GLSEN prepares for the departure of Founding Executive Director Kevin Jennings, Board Co-Chair Bob Chase reflects on GLSEN’s leadership.

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I first met Kevin Jennings at a National Educational Association conference in the early 90s, when its Gay Lesbian Caucus invited him to be the guest speaker. The caucus was trying to rejuvenate its mission and actions– and Kevin did just that. I, like the room of 400 allies and LGBT teachers, was captivated by Kevin’s passionate reminder that educators should do whatever was necessary to make schools safe for LGBT students– and LGBT educators themselves. Kevin was undeniably inspiring, as he has continued to be over the decade that he and I have worked together on both the boards of the NEA and GLSEN. In fact, to say Kevin is an inspiring leader is a gross understatement. And while he is no longer teaching in a “classroom,” Kevin undoubtedly remains continued on page 10


message from the Executive Director This year my baby, GLSEN, turned 18. We had our first meeting way back in 1990, when it was just three volunteers in Boston. Now, my baby is all grown up and ready, like many 18-year-olds are, to head off into the world. I, the parent, must let go, as I prepare to leave GLSEN early this fall. marvel at how my baby has grown. I helped start the nation’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at Concord Academy in 1988: today GLSEN has a network of nearly 4,000 GSAs–a 20% increase from this time last year. We have helped make bullying and harassment of LGBT students illegal in 11 states: there was one when we started. We have developed groundbreaking programs like No Name-Calling Week, one of the most commonly-used anti-bullying programs in America’s K-8 schools, and the Day of Silence, in which students on over 7,700 campuses took part in April 2008–a more than 50% increase over 2007. We have come a long way. But not far enough. As you undoubtedly know, at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, February 12, a 15-year-old eigth-grader named Lawrence King sat down at his desk at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, California. The day before, like many middle schoolers do, he had given a valentine to the person he had a crush on. Problem was, Lawrence had a crush on another boy, Brandon McInerney. Brandon responded to getting the valentine by coming in to school on that Tuesday and shooting Lawrence point blank in the head in the school’s computer lab. The changes we are trying to make didn’t come far enough or fast enough for Lawrence King. So who is to blame? Whose fault is it? Yes, a portion of the blame goes to the legislators in 39 states who have yet to

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extend protections to LGBT students. A portion goes to the school administrators who stand by while harassment goes on and do nothing. And a portion of the blame must be assigned to ourselves. Yes, us: because we know, deep down, that each of us could have taken the time to get more involved, to do more, to give more. As Martin Luther King said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” We “good people” must share some of the blame. We can do more. We can do better. We owe it to Lawrence. As of October new leaders will take this fight forward. I have advice for them: be impatient. Demand change now. Waiting is a luxury our young people can no longer afford. And I have a request of you: these new leaders will need your time. They will need your money. They will need your support. And I hope you will give it to them at a higher level than ever before. As for me, I grew up the son of an evangelist, and I find often that, in important moments, I revert to Bible quotations. So I will close with a few words from the Good Book from the final farewell of the Apostle Paul in Second Corinthians: “And now I must say goodbye. Encourage one another. Live together in harmony and peace. And the God of harmony and peace will always be with you.” It has truly been an honor. Sincerely,

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Email respect@glsen.org ©2008 GLSEN. All rights reserved. Printed in USA

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Groundbreaking Parents and Principals Studies In early 2008, GLSEN released a pair of first-ever studies: the first, on the experiences of LGBT families in schools, and the second, on the expertise of principals leading them. uthored in partnership with COLAGE and the Family Equality Council, two national organizations addressing the needs of LGBT parents and their children, Involved, Invisible, Ignored: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents and Their Children in Our Nation’s K-12 Schools provides a snapshot of the estimated seven million LGBT parents with school-aged children in the United States.

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School Climate in America, principals are much less likely to report that students are frequently called names, bullied or harassed because of how masculine or feminine they are (12% of principals vs. 31% of teachers, 29% of students) and much less likely to report that students are frequently called names, bullied or harassed because they are or people think they are gay, lesbian or bisexual (9% of principals vs. 28% of teachers, 34% of students).

The report finds that LGBT parents are more likely to be involved in their children’s K-12 education than the general parent population, yet more than half (53%) described being excluded from their school activities, events, policies and procedures. Twenty-six percent of surveyed LGBT parents reported mistreatment from other parents, and 21% reported hearing negative comments about being LGBT from students. Students with LGBT parents may also experience harassment in school because of their family–42% of students from LGBT families in our study said that they had been verbally harassed at school in the past year, and 28% responded that they heard teachers or other school staff make negative comments about LGBT families. Nearly a quarter (22%) of students said that a teacher, principal or other school staff person had discouraged them from talking about their family at school, and more than a third (36%) had felt that school personnel did not acknowledge their LGBT family–a finding echoed in the study, The Principal’s Perspective: School Safety, Bullying and Harassment. Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, The Principal’s Perspective reveals results of a national survey of K-12 principals. This groundbreaking report shows that principals may underestimate how much anti-LGBT bullying and harassment occurs in their schools. Compared to national results on secondary school teachers and the general population of students in GLSEN’S 2005 study, From Teasing to Torment: R

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Participating principals did acknowledge the large room for improvement. Of the 1,580 K-12 public school principals surveyed in summer 2007, three in ten principals (29%) rate their teachers and staff as fair or poor at being able to effectively deal with a student being bullied or harassed because they are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. But only 4% of principals report that their school or district provided professional development for their staff on LGBT issues during the past year. Both studies illustrate the importance of enumerated, antibullying policies that specifically recognize sexual orientation and gender expression–protections that many schools still do not have. Parents whose child’s school had this kind of comprehensive safe school policy reported the lowest level of mistreatment. Yet the minority of principals reported that their school or district policies specifically mention sexual orientation (46%) or gender identity or expression (39%). “These reports illustrate that school leaders must show a commitment to all students to truly make their schools safe for everyone,” says GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “As principals are critical players in ensuring a safe learning environment for all students, it is imperative that they understand the hostile climate oftentimes faced by both LGBT students and families in the school community.”

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Preventing Bullying, Promoting Creativity

www.nonamecallingweek.org

January 26-30, 2009

rom January 22 through 25, thousands of schools nationwide participated in the fifth-annual No Name-Calling Week, a project of GLSEN and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. Originally geared toward grades 5-8 and now expanded with additional lesson plans for earlier grades, the program coordinates educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

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A highlight of the Week is the “Creative Expression” contest, which invites students ages 5-15 to illustrate what name-calling means to them through artistic expression such as poetry, artwork or music. We were overwhelmed with hundreds of extraordinary entries from elementary to high school-aged students. Families discussed James Howe’s The Misfits during Haviland Avenue School’s weekly Family Book Club.

In addition to awarding top individual entries from primary and secondary school students, the contest honors a school or school district. Haviland Avenue School in Audubon, New Jersey, won first prize for their ongoing, comprehensive approach to teaching tolerance, including the weekly Family Book Club where parents and children read and discuss James Howe’s The Misfits, the inspiration for No Name-Calling Week. So instrumental were GLSEN’s Central New Jersey Chapter and Haviland in raising visibility that Governor Jon S. Corzine even officially declared No Name-Calling Week statewide. For their prize, Howe talked with two of Haviland’s sixth grade classes about bullying and name-calling and discussed creative writing over a pizza lunch with third through sixth graders. High school students who had read The Misfits while sixth graders at Haviland returned to talk with the current 7th, 8th and 9th graders. GLSEN leads a No-Name Calling Week Coalition of nearly 50 education and youth-service organizations, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, Girl Scouts of the USA, the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association, and more.

Author James Howe joined students at Haviland Avenue School in New Jersey for a special reading of The Misfits.

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For her illustrated poem, Shannon Cooney, an 8th-grader from Trinity Christian School in Omaha, Nebraska, was awarded first place among secondary students ages 11-15.

Mark Zwick, a 3rd-grader from Cline Elementary in Centerville, Ohio, won first prize in the Primary School level of the Creative Expressions contest. R

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continued from page 1

REMEMBERING LAWRENCE

Attracting nearly 87,000 views on YouTube to date, N’Sync’s Lance Bass recorded a special PSA featuring students from New York and New Jersey, and the LOGO network ran a new PSA created in partnership with GLSEN.

Close to 20,000 students registered in Day of Silence activities nationwide.

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LSEN played a vital role in supporting and organizing a collective, grassroots response to the tragic murder of Lawrence King on February 12. The website www.rememberinglawrence.org was created as a clearinghouse for activities, with 173 vigils posted nationwide between February and April.

Momentum built toward the National Day of Silence on April 25. More than 20 GLSEN chapters held events, and hundreds of community-based "Breaking the Silence" events rounded up the day. Day of Silence activities even helped to restart the GLSEN Las Vegas chapter.

A March 13 vigil in downtown Tampa allowed community members and students to express themselves and connect.

The darkest areas on the map are states with the most participation. GLSEN is also grateful to our peer organization Lambda Legal for providing special support for students and schools, creating a fact sheet addressing potential issues and being available for one-on-one consultation.

During the Safe Schools Advocacy Summit, chapter leaders joined GLSEN DC staff to remember Lawrence King with a vigil on February 25 in Dupont Circle.

“Together, concerned students created a resonating call to action in Lawrence King’s memory to prevent future tragedies,” notes GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “This year’s Day of Silence brought even more meaning to a day that has given hope to millions of students.”

The 13th-annual Day of Silence is set for April 17, 2009. Learn more at www.DayofSilence.org.

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GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings, left, was joined by Grey's Anatomy star T.R. Knight, far right, at the Day of Silence activities at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in Los Angeles. E

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Students from New York and New Jersey filmed a PSA with Lance Bass.

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Students from New York’s Capital Region chapter held a vigil in Albany’s East Capitol Park on March 19.

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Over $1Million Raised in New York

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respect

sold-out crowd of close to 600 guests gathered at Gotham Hall on May 19 for the fifth-annual Respect Awards-New

AWARDS

York, presented by Goldman Sachs. Under the leadership

2008 Respect AwardsNY Sponsors Presenter and Jump-Start Student Leader Mikey Gonzales

GLSEN Board Co-Chairs Bob Chase and Gail Lopes

GLSEN thanks the following.

of co-chairs Anthony Collerton, Ryan Pedlow and Susie

Presenting Sponsor

Scher, the ceremony honored leaders who have made the business and civic arenas more inclusive for the LGBT community, paving the way for future success for students reached through GLSEN.

This year’s honorees were: Ron Ansin, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Commerce and Development, who has helped the foundation and infrastructure of diverse non-profits such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Youth Services Providers Network, GLAD, the Equality Forum and GLSEN, to which he has personally contributed nearly one million dollars over thirteen years, in addition to his countless hours of insight and leadership. Under the stewardship of Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs has become a leader in the recruitment and career development of LGBT talent. In addition to sponsoring LGBT-specific organizations such as the National Gay MBA conference and GLSEN, the firm has supported diversity programming through the Goldman Sachs Gay and Lesbian Network and has been a model in offering "best in class" LGBT employee benefits. Event co-chair Susie Scher is a managing director and partner at Goldman Sachs in the Americas Financing Group. LGBT issues have been a cornerstone of the national publication DiversityInc, which promotes the business benefits of valuing all employees, customers, suppliers and investors, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age and orientation, to close to 200,000 readers in print and more than one million unique visitors online every month. DiversityInc Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Barbara Frankel is a member of GLSEN's Board of Directors. Co-founder Luke Visconti accepted the award on behalf of the publication. Peppered throughout the program were clips of our recent Day of Silence public service announcements, starring CNN’s Larry King and N’Sync’s Lance Bass. Guests also were treated to sneak peak at a PSA starring Wanda Sykes, created by the Ad Council for GLSEN–the first LGBT organization selected for a campaign, slated to launch this fall. Bolstered by a $100,000 matching challenge led by David Dechman and Michel Mercure, the event raised more than $1.4million–our most successful Respect Awards to date. GLSEN is deeply grateful to the event’s co-chairs, host committee, corporate sponsors and guests for supporting our continuing efforts to ensure safer schools for all students. 8

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Co-chairs Ryan Pedlow, Susie Scher and Anthony Collerton

National Sponsors

Honoree Luke Visconti of DiversityInc and GLSEN Board Member Karen Brown

Honoree Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs

Honoree Ron Ansin

Kevin Jennings and presenter Graciela Kaplan

Michel Mercure and David Dechman

Guests Deb Tollman, Jon Stryker, Urvashi Vaid, Luis Ubinas and Kate Clinton

The landmark Gotham Hall filled with close to 600 guests

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his year’s Respect Awards-New York also paid special tribute to founder Kevin Jennings before he steps down from his role as Executive Director early this fall. Reflecting on the 20 years since he helped students in Massachusetts form the first Gay-Straight Alliance to growth of nearly 4,000 GSAs nationwide today, Kevin spoke movingly about the students who have inspired GLSEN’s work.

Senior Class

GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings, center, with hosts Robert Perrin-Hayes and Minerva Ranjeet, both Jump-Start Student Leaders. E

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Advocacy with SSAS

Anti-Bullying Law Passes in Maryland

Exploring Diversity, Building Coalitions

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LSEN hosted its third-annual Students of Color Organizing (SOCO) conference from January 18 to 21 in Atlanta. From a highly competitive pool of nearly 100 applications nationwide, 22 exceptional young leaders from middle and high schools were selected to participate in the weekend, designed to encourage coalition-building skills that participants can take back to their communities. Workshops, roundtable discussions and a visit to the Martin Luther King Center helped explore the intersection of being an LGBT/Allied student and a student of color. Another highlight of the weekend was an intergenerational panel featuring local activists, further emphasizing relationships and networking between school and community groups in the safe schools movement. A generous grant from the Time Warner Foundation made SOCO 2008 possible.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law on May 13 a comprehensive bill that protects all students from bullying and harassment, becoming only the seventh state to enumerate categories of protection that include sexual orientation and gender identity. he landmark bill makes Maryland just the 11th state to protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation. Maryland already requires schools to report bullying incidents. This law will now require each school district to develop bullying prevention programs for students, staff, volunteers and parents. In GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey, which chronicled the experiences of LGBT students in schools, LGBT students who were covered by a comprehensive safe school policy that specifically protects sexual orientation were less likely to report being harassed at school (31.6% vs. 40.8%), far more likely to tell school officials when incidents of harassment occurred (26.4% vs. 16.1%) and more than twice as likely to have a teacher intervene when harassment occurred versus students covered by a non-enumerated, or "generic," policy. Enumerated anti-bullying policies also have a beneficial effect for the student population as a whole, LGBT and non-LGBT alike. The 2005 GLSEN report From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that students whose schools have a policy that specifically includes sexual orientation or gender identity/expression are less likely than other students to report a serious harassment problem at their school (33% vs. 44%).

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(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1)

And we all can learn from the unique blend of humor and savvy with which Kevin’s taken on some of the most “far right.”

Kevin often reminds us that change is a process. Under his leadership, I’ve seen the number of young people and adult supporters involved in chapters expand nationwide, the first Kevin has taught me to be armed with fact to support GLSEN’s GSAs grow from hundreds to nearly 4,000, expert training positions before the less-informed. GLSEN’s research has programs prepare even more teachers and real inroads made been invaluable to fellow advocates and to the academic to move forward anti-bullying legislation. community. The recent principals’ study is a perfect example There will never be a “2nd Kevin.” But Kevin has helped of the power of such collaborative research. Its impact can GLSEN staff and supporters build the organization into a force already be seen in the broader support of No Name-Calling that will only continue to grow with the talents of his successor. Week and the National Day of Silence. I am grateful for all he has taught me, for all that he has Kevin has taught GLSEN how to build coalitions–not just among like-minded LGBT organizations but also, and perhaps given GLSEN and for all that he has inspired in the safe more dramatically, among “mainstream” educational groups schools movement. like the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

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This year, GLSEN transformed the former Student Organizing Leadership Summit into the Safe Schools Advocacy Summit (SSAS). For the first time, adult chapter leaders, students from the national Jump-Start Team and the Michigan Campaign Advocacy Team were brought together for an action-packed four days of learning and lobbying from February 23 to 26 in Washington D.C. he summit kicked off with training sessions covering communications and messaging, coalition building and working in an anti-oppression framework. Artist-activist Anu Yadav performed and discussed how theater and art can create change. Guest speakers Bob Chase, GLSEN Board Co-Chair and former President of the National Education Association, and Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, inspired the crowd for their advocacy day ahead on Capitol Hill.

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“The conference was a vital opportunity for students of color to connect with each other,” notes Benny Vasquez, GLSEN’s Director of Student Organizing, “and to help them build connections between LGBT and other cultural groups to promote safer schools for all.” Across the country, GLSEN chapters and GSAs also held activities inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now in its fourth year, the MLK Organizing Weekend recognizes the importance of collaborating with other groups, understanding the roots of organizing in social justice and working outside of our schools. Close to 250 schools participated this year.

SSAS participants held 54 meetings with Senators and Representatives or their staff, emphasizing the Safe Schools Improvement Act and antibullying and harassment legislation, support for the later-introduced National Day of Silence Resolution and funding for education programs.

An Inspiring Leader, a Remarkable Teacher a remarkable teacher. I’ve witnessed Kevin teach educators to have the courage to push forward beyond administrative politics, community bigotry and often their own job security, to take the chances and risks needed to make schools safer for all students.

GLSEN Jump-Start Team member Tonei Glavinic and GLSEN’s Media Relations Manager Daryl Presgraves met with Representative Don Young of Alaska (center).

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So effective were SSAS leaders that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) became co-sponsors to the Safe Schools Improvement Act. And 13 Representatives have since signed on to the act in total. Students and adult leaders alike report feeling empowered by the experience. Says participant and Jump-Start member Elizabeth Duthinh of Frederick, Maryland: “I got a close-up look at how the Safe Schools Improvement Act was moving forward and could take that momentum home to share with my community.” A poignant reminder of the real-life stories behind our legislative goals, the tragic murder of Lawrence King just weeks before inspired participants to hold a candlelight vigil. “Had I not attended the Summit and the vigil, I would not have gotten the fire, the drive, to be able to coordinate a vigil back in Seattle,” shares attendee David Hildebrand, Public Relations Director for GLSEN Washington State. Many of those at the summit were inspired to organize vigils for King upon returning home–see page 7 for more. R

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RESPECT Newsletter, July 2008  

The latest issue of GLSEN's newsletter, Respect, reports on: # Record-breaking participation in the 12th National Day of Silence and GLSEN'...