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WASHINGTON -- The White House has named GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a Champion of Change for the organization’s two decades of pioneering work to fight bullying, violence and stigma directed at LGBT people in K-12 schools, and its contributions to efforts to prevent suicide among at-risk youth.
The “Champions of Change Series: Winning the Future Across America” is a White House initiative that honors Americans and organizations making an impact in issues of critical importance to our country and helping the nation rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard and Public Policy Manager Alison Gill, along with eight other award recipient representatives, met on Thursday with representatives from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration at the White House to discuss their initiatives and to share best practices from their work.
“This White House honor recognizes the amazing work that the staff, volunteers and student leaders of GLSEN have done for more than two decades to alert the nation to the ways that anti-LGBT bias in our schools is a serious barrier to both educational excellence and individual well-being,” Byard said. “I and my colleagues are dedicated to identifying and implementing solutions to the problem that work for schools and for students, instilling hope and staving off despair. It is so gratifying to gain this kind of recognition for our efforts to create better, safer schools for all.”
GLSEN focuses on research, programs and advocacy that promote safer schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, and school environments where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to a diverse and healthy society. The organization’s work to reduce anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and violence in K-12 schools takes aim at the issues of victimization and stigmatization of LGBT people in ways that can interrupt the descent into despair.
For two decades, GLSEN’s “Safe Space” initiative has helped increase visible support for LGBT and questioning students. Today, our Safe Space Campaign seeks to extend this potentially life-saving support into every middle and high school in the country.
With programs like No Name-Calling Week, Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project, and the Jump-Start Student Leadership Program reaching school communities nationwide, GLSEN seeks to ensure that the whole school serves the whole child, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.
GLSEN’s proven programs and initiatives have earned the organization the partnership of most major national education associations, including the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Education Association. GLSEN is also a member of the National Human Service Assembly and its National Collaboration for Youth, ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and the America’s Promise Alliance.
In 2011, GLSEN was selected for a five-year CDC-DASH grant as part of CDC’s Safe Spaces Initiative and national HIV-reduction strategy. GLSEN provides technical assistance and professional development support to school districts nationwide, as well as to federal agencies working on the issues of bullying prevention, civil rights, educational access and public health in our schools.
“GLSEN partners with students, parents, educators and school districts to contribute to the urgent national project of improving student well-being and educational achievement with research-driven solutions,” Byard said. “I am so grateful to GLSEN’s staff, board of directors, and most especially all of the individuals who choose to be part of this critical work every day in communities across the country, and am honored to represent them as GLSEN’s executive director.”