GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is excited to announce the completion of its three-year Safe Space Campaign to distribute a GLSEN Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school in the country – 63,000 schools. GLSEN created the campaign, launched in November 2010, to ensure that every school has access to a resource to inform and empower educators to make classrooms safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.
The Safe Space Kit includes GLSEN Safe Space posters and stickers and a 42-page guide to being an ally to LGBT students. Including orders for multiple Safe Space Kits, nearly 100,000 Kits and 1 million Safe Space stickers were distributed to schools as part of the campaign.
“Today we celebrate the completion of a campaign that rallied a broad and powerful network of communities, organizations and individuals determined to ensure that every LGBT student in this country has access to potentially life-saving support,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “We launched this campaign at a time when the nation was awakening to the costs and dangers of bullying, and GLSEN needed to get proven resources out to the tens of thousands of schools where action is so crucial.
“Completing this campaign required the support, partnership and commitment of so many people, corporations and organizations, and we are so grateful to everyone who stood with GLSEN to take action to make our schools safer and more supportive places for LGBT youth. I hope they are all proud of what we have done together.”
According to GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey:
• More than 8 out of 10 LGBT students (81.9%) experienced harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and more than 6 out of 10 (63.9%) because of their gender expression.
• More than 6 out of 10 (63.5%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 4 out of 10 (43.9%) because of their gender expression.
The report also found, however, that supportive educators play a critical role in making schools safer and more inclusive for LGBT students. The more supportive educators students could identify, the greater their academic achievement, sense of school belonging, attendance and educational aspirations, and the less likely they were to say they felt unsafe in school.
Those findings, consistent with previous years of the survey, inspired GLSEN’s Safe Space Campaign.
Completing the campaign required the activation of GLSEN’s network of national and community partners. Over the three-year campaign, GLSEN partnered with the American School Counselor Association, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Association of Independent Schools to reach their memberships with the campaign’s message and the Kits themselves.
GLSEN also received support from dozens of corporate partners committed to improving the school experiences of LGBT students, including Wells Fargo, which made a historic multi-year commitment to the campaign that not only included funding, but volunteers across the country delivering the Kits. Corporate and institutional partners who supported the campaign included: Wells Fargo, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Deloitte, the Gill Foundation, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, MassMutual, Verizon, the Colin Higgins Foundation and the State Farm Foundation.
The campaign was also the focus of GLSEN’s entry in the second Pepsi Refresh Challenge online voting contest, in which the organization won $250,000 as a result of a final get-out-the-vote effort supported by a broad spectrum of LGBT community organizations.
“Every student deserves to feel safe in school, and today we are confident that schools are safer for LGBT students than they were three years ago, Byard said. “While this is an incredible accomplishment, our work is not yet done."
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