GLSEN: Here’s Why We Love this Organization

GLSEN Feature

Did you know that 8 out of 10 LGBTQ students still experience bullying or harassment at school? That’s an incredibly high percentage if you ask me. Though the fight to end bullying in schools has been going strong for quite some time now, it has proven to be a strong issue that needs a lot of care. Thankfully, there are programs and organizations that have been fervently working to end bullying in schools. At the forefront to battle the bullying epidemic is GLSEN and we are loving them for it. 

Who is GLSEN? 

GLSEN, pronounced “glisten,” is an organization that has continuously advocated for the respect and protection of the lesbian, gay, transgender, and questions (LGBTQ) student population in K-12 public schools. Their main focus is to be able to guide educational systems into bully-free environments. 

This wonderful organization was founded by a small group of teachers in Massachusetts back in 1990.  Their motivation to create GLSEN was to ensure there was an establishment in place that would focus on the safety of the LGBTQ youth. They figured they would do this by providing solutions to the educators and systems that would empower the student population and stop them from engaging in bullying. Well, it seems like whatever they’re doing is working because they’re now considered the leading national educational organization. Three decades later and they are still grinding and making it happen. That’s what commitment to the community looks like. 

What exactly does GLSEN do?

They advocate for the LGBTQ youth in various ways. One of the ways GLSEN aids to end the bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ youth in schools is by equipping educators with resources (authored by GLSEN) to create and establish more inclusive curriculums. Most of the information necessary to generate these curriculums can be found on their website. These resources have educated countless schools on how substantial it is to openly have conversations about LGBTQ people in their classes. Far too often, LGBTQ students have been disadvantaged from inadequate information on who they are and about their sexual health choices because it wasn’t part of the curriculum. This easily makes anyone feel invisible, which is why GLSEN has incorporated sex and health education classes to include LGBTQ scenarios. They also conduct original and comprehensive research to guarantee the validity of their statistics and the information provided to the participants of the organization. To maximize their impact, GLSEN is constantly partnering with decisions and other educational organizations. In fact, it’s been through their partnerships that they’ve been able to push policies, both statewide and nationwide, that are designed to work towards eradicating bullying and shielding vulnerable students, especially LGBTQ students, from the dangers of bullying. This includes them working alongside with Congress, the Department of Education, local school districts, and really, any system associated with the safety of students. I know some people might think they’re too “extra” for doing so much, but their dedication to be so detailed in their advocacy is one of the reasons why they’re one of the most trusted organizations in the nation. 

Talking about policies, what policies are they working on?

It’s always important to stay informed, especially when it comes to the agenda of any organization you are following. Luckily, all of GLSEN’s agenda looks to have been filled only with policies that are set to improve this dire situation revolving bullying and LGBTQ students. It might please you to know that GLSEN is known for having a lot of successes in the policies they’ve defended. 

Keeping that in mind, here are a couple of policies they’re currently working on:  

  • Safe Schools Improvement Act: This Act would order all public K-12 public schools to introduce an anti-bullying policy. This policy would require the schools to protect students from bullying based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and religion. 
  • Student Non-Discrimination Act: This is a top priority bill for GLSEN. This bill would provide protection against harassment for LGBTQ students. It would also extend similar rights that are stipulated in bills protecting students based on their gender or race to those LGBTQ that are unfortunately harassed or bullied. 

Both of these acts I’ve mentioned have the potential to become federal laws. Unfortunately, getting policies to get passed at a federal level, even when it pertains to such a pertinent issue, has always been difficult. This surprises me, considering the fact that many school systems have been trying to eradicate bullying for quite some time now. However, we mustn’t forget that pushing for the policies that focus on anti-bully procedures and protects students are really important, especially to our youth. 

It’s sad to say, but bullying is driving the kids to engage in harmful behaviors and it has the possibility of negatively affecting their mental health as well. So, in order for us to avoid these types of tragedies, we must act too. What can you do? Well, join GLSEN in the fight! Call your State Representative and speak to them about these Acts and how significant it’d be to the youth if they were passed into laws. I know, I know. Picking up a phone and actually talking through it. But, hear me out! It’ll only be one minute of your time and these methods really work because that’s what’s gotten other representatives to endorse these acts. In fact, politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, are currently backing the Student Non-Discrimination Act. See, it’s possible. 

Does GLSEN involvement in the bullying issue against the LGBTQ youth really work? 

Remember that GLSEN is extremely meticulous in everything that they do for their organization. Because of this, they have the facts to prove that their guidance and focus on protecting the LGBTQ youth does work. 

In a survey conducted by GLSEN, the 2013 National School Climate Survey, they found that 74.1 percent of LGBTQ middle and high school students stated they had been bullied in the past year. However, the survey also found something that was positive. 

According to the survey, whenever comprehensive anti-bullying policies were in place within the school system, LGBTQ students reported to have been bullied less. On the other hand, school systems without anti-bullying policies or generic anti-bullying policies reported an elevated percentage of bullying towards LGBTQ students. Though the only acceptable percentage of bullying should be at zero, this is a start. Hopefully, more schools start adopting comprehensive anti-bully policies sooner than later. Maybe then we will see bullying eradicated from schools. 

Chart Comparing the Effectiveness of Different of Policies

Type of Policy Percentage
Comprehensive 50.4
Generic 66.4
None 72.4

 

So, back to the original question: Does their involvement work? Well, you know this, but the answer is yes. 

GLSEN LGBTQ Infographic
Photo Credit giveoutday.org

How can I incorporate GLSEN in my school or in the school of a loved one? 

I’d start by going into their website and looking over all their resources. Once you find what you’re looking for, print it out, and take it as a teacher, the administration, or the school district. Most of the time, they’ll be glad there’s positive educational material coming through, especially if it’s from GLSEN. 

Truly, I believe GLSEN is such a valuable organization and I really do hope all of our LGBTQ youth get to benefit from their support at some point of their lives. No one should ever feel like they’re not heard. These kids are our future. Let’s do better, at least for them.