This month, we are learning more about the organization GLSEN and how it works to support the LGBTQ+ community. GLSEN is one of the four nonprofits that will receive a grant from the Mama Bears Giving Circle in September 2022. We had the pleasure of speaking directly with their team to gain additional insight about what they do. Here is the information they wanted to share with the Mama Bears!
GLSEN was born from a spark—an idea—an action.
That spark became the first GSA (Gender-Sexuality Alliances, also known as Gay-Straight Alliances), an alliance of understanding, support, and safety between a teacher and a student who felt different and targeted.
Today, after over 30 years of leading the movement, GLSEN’s national network is more than 1.5 million strong, with students, families, educators, and education advocates working to create safe schools. Safety in school means being who you are without fear of violence, retaliation, and consequence. It means acceptance and support to learn who you will become while earning the academic education and success every young person deserves, because no young person should have to choose between their wellbeing and education.
GLSEN programming helps reduce victimization for our LGBTQ+ youth and sets the course for a safer, more equitable future. We coordinate a network of 44 chapters in 40 states across the nation. Our chapter network works locally to advance equity in local schools and communities through professional development for educators, policy advocacy, youth engagement, and research initiatives. By coordinating local chapters and a network of educators across the country, GLSEN’s model catalyzes widespread impact on individual student lives by empowering local communities to take action.
Furthermore, we empower students to directly affect change by supporting student-led efforts to positively impact their own schools and local communities, via advocacy campaigns like Day of Silence and Solidarity Week. GLSEN also supports thousands of registered GSAs nationwide (Gender-Sexuality Alliances, also known as Gay-Straight Alliances).
Today we are seeing the rise of systemic anti-LGBTQ+ legislation—Florida. Alabama. Texas. Ohio. Louisiana. Dozens more states are drafting legislation that directly targets LGBTQ+ youth. That is why in 2022 GLSEN has reaffirmed our dedication to centering racial equity and disability justice, and we are committed to advocating for the full inclusion of transgender and nonbinary youth in all facets of school life and our organization’s strategic framework. Our most recent National School Climate Survey shows 2 in 5 LGBTQ+ Youth of Color were bullied based on their race or ethnicity, and 84% of trans students felt unsafe because of their gender.
We understand that what is good for the most vulnerable students, including LGBTQ+ students who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), immigrant, disabled, low-income, or otherwise disadvantaged, is good for all students. We know that everyone benefits from a safer school environment, and we know that every child deserves it.