Every student should feel valued and respected at school regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. GLSEN, which stands for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, aims to create an inclusive environment in schools for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students. GLSEN was founded in 1990 by a small group of teachers who wanted to put an end to LGBTQ students being bullied and discriminated against.
While GLSEN stands for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, their efforts impact students at any point along the LGBTQ and gender identity spectrums. Teachers, peers, and school administration all play a role in allowing students to feel respected and accepted for who they are. Therefore, school policies must reflect inclusion for all students.
GLSEN advocates for LGBTQ issues in Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and local school districts. They ensure that inclusive safe school policies are considered, passed, and implemented in order to end bullying and harassment for LGBTQ students. On the federal level, GLSEN has built support for legislation such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. They also partner with several national education organizations to share their expertise and research-based solutions for creating inclusive schools for all children. Donations go towards advocacy, research, and programs.
When talking about where GLSEN would be 25 years from now, executive director Eliza Byard said “I hope that we’re not needed in the same way, and that all of the things that we’re working for are just inbedded in a way that our schools are supposed to be for any child who walks through those doors.” It’s undeniable that all children should be able to get a good education and feel safe in school no matter where they fall in regards to gender and sexuality. Much progress has been made over the past few decades and hopefully in the near future school policy everywhere will show acceptance for all.