Monday, October 19, 2009

GLSEN's Ally Week from October 19th - October 23

Ally Week - Frequently Asked Questions:

What is GLSEN's Ally Week?

GLSEN and students across the county, often as members of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar student clubs, will celebrate Ally Week on October 19-23 in schools and communities nationwide.

Ally Week involves a week of activities designed to encourage students to be Allies against anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language, bullying and harassment in America's schools.

Students plan events appropriate to their school community. Some students will participate in or organize ally trainings, discussion groups, rallies or other community projects.

Many students will encourage their peers and school staff to sign an Ally Pledge which states:

I believe all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, deserve to feel safe and supported. That means I pledge to:

Not use anti-LGBT language and slurs;

Intervene, if I safely can, in situations where other students are being harassed;
Support efforts to end bullying and harassment. Take the pledge online here.

GLSEN encourages students to participate in Ally Week in cooperation with their schools. We encourage students to get support from their principals and educators and participate fully in their school day. Principals, counselors, teachers and all school staff are encouraged to be Allies too!

Students and GSAs are strongly encouraged to register for GLSEN's Ally Week in order to receive free resources and to help us determine the total number of schools and students taking part.

To register for Ally Week, visit: www.studentorganizing.org

Buttons, wristbands, stickers, t-shirts and posters for Ally Week can be purchased online at www.glsenstore.org

To find organizing resources, go here.


What is an Ally?

Often referred to as "straight allies," allies generally are non-LGBT people who are committed to ending bias and discrimination against LGBT people. While straight allies are an integral part of GLSEN's Ally Week, the term "ally" is more inclusive within the Safe Schools Movement to refer to anyone who supports ending anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. For instance, a bisexual adult can be an ally to LGBT students, and a lesbian student can be an ally to a transgender student.


Who started Ally Week?

In 2005, members of GLSEN's Jump-Start National Student Leadership Team came up with an idea to celebrate Allies committed to ensuring safe and effective schools for all and to encourage students to take action. The idea turned into the first Ally Week celebrated in schools nationwide in October 2005.

This year, GSAs are working with GLSEN, local chapters and national student leaders to expand Ally Week and encourage more allies to take part.


Why do we need an Ally Week?

The unfortunate truth is that anti-LGBT bullying, violence and harassment are commonplace in America's schools. Actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender expression are two of the top three reasons teens report that students are harassed at their schools, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a GLSEN-commissioned report by Harris Interactive. In other words, all students - LGBT and straight alike - perceive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment as a serious problem in their schools. The vast majority of these same students said their schools would be better of if this issue was better addressed. GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey found that nearly nine out of ten LGBT students report experiencing verbal harassment at school and over 32% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. GLSEN's Ally Week brings us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America's schools.


Are there other Days of Action?

Ally Week is the first of GLSEN's Days of Action. Others include: Martin Luther King Jr. Organizing Week (Jan 19-22, 2010), TransAction! (Feb 2010) and the National Day of Silence (Apr 16, 2010). For more on Days of Action, visit www.dayofsilence.org.



What do we do after Ally Week is over?

GLSEN's Ally Week is one part of a larger effort to create safe schools for all students. There is much you can do throughout the year to help make your school safer. Start by signing up on www.studentorganizing.org where you can get information on other organizing tools, Days of Action, and ideas for ways you can make your schools safer!

Learn all about the Safe Schools Improvement Act and how you can support it here.

And make sure to check out the other Days of Action, including the And make sure to check out the other Days of Action, including the Day of Silence.


What are the facts about sexual orientation?

A resource prepared by a coalition of 13 education, health, mental health and religious organizations called Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, can be found here.


What is GLSEN?

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN's educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.

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