I have been volunteering with GLSEN for nearly 10 years and became a Board member last year. GLSEN is the pre-eminent organization dealing with anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Tragically, the need for GLSEN was no more evident than the tragic loss of young lives last Fall due to anti-gay bullying in schools. And it was re-enforced with the homophobic language displayed by top NBA stars over the past few weeks.
GLSEN has forged strong relationships and reputations with most of the national education associations, the Obama administration, the Ad Council, and the NBA to ensure that homophobic language and harassment have no place in our nation's schools. Every child deserves a safe and respectful place to learn.
I have volunteered for a number of organizations and served on numerous Boards. GLSEN is far and away one of the top non-profits I've served with.
I have been involved with GLSEN for over 6 years now. I've seen GLSEN grow from a struggling grassroots organization to a prominent voice on issues facing LGBT youth in schools. The programming, training, and research the organization provides is world-class. The staff and volunteers are truly dedicated and loyal to the mission and vision.
GLSEN changed my life. Their student organizing program gave me a week of training with other LGBT and allied 13-17 year olds. We learned about community organizing tactics, communication strategies, the legislative process, and workshop facilitation skills. Their staff provided ongoing support and summits throughout the year as each of us implemented action plans in our widely varied areas of the country. We went way beyond founding Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in high schools. Students did everything imaginable: hosted statewide summits for youth on their rights or transgender advocacy, organized lobbying for anti-LGBT harassment and bullying laws, provided resources to local GSAs, networked clubs to hold rallies and days of action, made asks of our administrations to cover inclusive curricula, provide gender neutral bathrooms, or address bias in other ways. The students I met through GLSEN inspire me to this day. They were the most diverse group of people I have ever met in my entire life. Because GLSEN paid for ALL expenses, youth came from every economic, ethnic, geographic, rural/urban background and united for a common cause. The program was truly empowering of grassroots leadership, enabling the people affected by oppression to address it themselves in ways that were appropriate to their area and changed the relationships of power within the schools. We created real change in people's lives with an incredible support network of inspirational friends and knowledgeable paid staff. GLSEN helps youth become not the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today. This experience in many ways made me who I am- someone who knows her power to organize change.
The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network has been an influential organization in both the development of my personal as well as my professional life. On a personal level I have found strength and pride as an openly gay educator in Boston. I have been empowered by my work as an activist on the local Boston board member, and board Chair, as well as co chair of the National Advisory Council. Through our work we have made schools safe for thousands of school age youth by advocating for legislation which protects students, educating administrators, teachers, students and parents about the harmful affects of anti gay bullying and harassment in our schools. Professionally as a teacher, I have been able to infuse LGBT themes in my curriculum which further provides all students with the opportunity to acknowledge sexual orientation and gender expression as only one facet of a person's overall identity. I am proud of GLSEN's work throughout the country and especially on the National Level in spearheading anti bullying legislation across the country. I will continue to support GLSEN in it's efforts to make all schools safe for every menber of a school community, Frank Pantano Boston, MA