Gay-Straight Alliances Hub




Duke Athletes Tackle Homophobia And Other Slurs With 'You Don't Say' Campaign

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An ad campaign started by a group of college students to bring awareness and combat words that marginalize and belittle people based on their sexual orientation, gender, race or disability has now blossomed to include 41 student-athletes from Duke University reports OutsportsThe athletes pose in uniforms and training outfits next to words they don't say and why they don't say them. The campaign was founded by senior Daniel Kort and juniors Anuj Chhabra, Christie Lawrence and Jay Sullivan and on Jan. 7 issued its second online push featuring the student athletes.

Said Kort:

"Sports are really integral to our campus culture, and with that comes a pretty big microphone around our athletic culture. It's easier to dismiss a message if it's coming from a social justice-oriented group on campus...by getting people who aren’t traditionally seen as the social justice kids on campus to stand up for this message, it carries a lot more weight. It’s also that these student-athletes care a lot about the issues."

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 5.18.10 PMKort and his collaborators work received national recognition from the Huffington Post and CNN. Although a sizable portion of the campaign deals with homophobic terms, other ads tackle racist terms such as "oreo," and "illegal alien," sexist comments including "man up," and "they asked for it," and mental illness pejoratives such as "psycho," and "retarded."

Of course, the worthwhile campaign is already receiving detractors attempting to tear down the campaign's message. Those who oppose "You Don't Say" claim the campaign is based on censorship and the project is a "hypersensitive" attempt to limit free speech. Kort said that last time most of the negativity came from Facebook, although after the relaunch, detractors have taken more to Twitter to combat the project. Kort and Sullivan have been adamant throughout their two campaigns that the project is not meant to censor speech, but rather to bring a new light to the way students use it. With the student-athletes support, it seems the message is clearly heard on Duke’s campus.

You can follow the "You Don't Say" campaign on Twitter.


Bigoted Mississippi School District Officials Fighting to Stop Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance

A school district in central Mississippi is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to prevent students from creating a gay-straight alliance on campus, The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Weathersby[Rankin County Superintendent Lynn] Weathersby (pictured right) brought up the issue at Wednesday's school board meeting, making clear his intentions to limit such organizations in Rankin County schools.

"I talked to (board attorney) Freddie (Harrell) and several administrators about what we could legally do to limit organizations like that on campus that we don't want to endorse and don't want," Weathersby said.

Although school board members and officials said they were not aware of any attempt to form a club in the district, Brandon High School theatre teacher Janice Weaver said she was approached by a student in December who expressed a desire to create a gay-straight alliance (GSA), or a student-led, student-organized club aimed at combating anti-gay discrimination and bullying in schools. Weaver said the student submitted the proposal for the club to school administrators. 

At the meeting, Weathersby said the best way to stop the "gay club" would be to require parents to sign a consent form allowing their children to participate in the club.

The paper continues:

School board attorney Freddie Harrell echoed Weathersby, saying a gay club might violate educational standards and principles adopted by the school district such as abstinence-only sexual education.

Newly appointed board member Ira Singleton asked Harrell what would happen if parents did consent to their children participating in such a club. Harrell responded that at that time, it would be up to the school's principal to decide whether the club meets school requirements.

In a statement, HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill blasted the district's actions, saying:

“The policy sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus. The board’s actions tell LGBT students that they should be ashamed of who they are and that their lives are valued less than their peers. Keeping our children safe is critical. We demand the Superintendent, and the board, reverse its decision to publicly humiliate, degrade and embarrass young LGBT people."

The ACLU of Mississippi, meanwhile, has already sent a letter to Weathersby letting him know that the district could land in legal hot water if students are blocked from forming GSA clubs. You can read the letter below:


15 Years After Landmark Ruling In Favor Of Gay Straight Alliances, School Districts Continue To Deny Them

NPhighschool

Fifteen years after a landmark federal court ruling upholding the right of students to form Gay Straight Alliance clubs at public schools, some districts continue to violate the law by refusing to recognize GSAs.  

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against a school district in Bainbridge, Indiana — 35 miles west of Indianapolis — on behalf of three students and the GSA at North Putnam High School. 

ACLU

The students formed the GSA at North Putnam more than a year ago, but after months of stalling, the school board voted Nov. 20 not to recognize the club. 

The ACLU alleges the district's failure to recognize the GSA violates both the federal Equal Access Act and the students' First Amendment rights: 

LGBT students at the school have frequently been harassed and wanted to form the GSA to provide a place to educate the community and support vulnerable students. The school, which allows other non-school-sponsored clubs and activities to meet, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Key Club and Best Buddies, has denied recognition of the GSA club for more than a year. The students followed all the school's required procedures outlined in its student handbook to establish the club, including securing a faculty member to supervise the group. ... 

"The law is clear in this matter," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "There is no excuse for the school district's intransigence, which is causing real harm to its students."

The ACLU of Indiana was successful in reversing a similar decision by a school in the Town of Munster in July, 2014.

"The actions of the school district in clear violation of federal law leave the most vulnerable students at North Putnam without critically needed support," Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney at the ACLU added.

In November 1999, a federal judge ruled that the Salt Lake City school district's decision to reject a GSA at East High School violated the federal Equal Access Act. The Salt Lake district said it was banning all non-curricular clubs to get around the Equal Access Act, but continued to allow other clubs to meet. 

From Lambda Legal, which served as lead counsel in the Salt Lake City lawsuit: 

This case more than any other put the issue of GSAs on the nation's radar, letting students know they could fight back and letting school districts know they might be in violation of the law.

Apparently, some districts still haven't gotten the message. 

Read the ACLU's lawsuit, and watch U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's video in support of GSAs from 2012, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "15 Years After Landmark Ruling In Favor Of Gay Straight Alliances, School Districts Continue To Deny Them" »


Study: LGBT Youth Report Online Harassment Three Times More Often Than Heterosexual Peers

  Same difference

A recent study by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network shows that nearly three times the amount of LGBT youth respondents reported bullying and harassment online as compared to their non-LGBT peers, reports The Advocate.

Additionally, the report demonstrates that LGBT youth were twice as likely to report being harassed via text message.

Based on a national survey of 5,680 students in middle and high school, effects of bullying reported included lowered self-esteem, higher likelihood of depression, and lowered grade point averages.

However, noting that respondents reported increased peer support, access to health information, and opportunities for civic engagement, Michelle Ybarra, the president and research director of the Center for Innovative Health Research said that the Internet “does not serve to simply reinforce the negative dynamics found offline regarding bullying” but “also offers LGBT youth critical tools for coping with these negative experiences."

The study found LGBT youth nearly twice as likely to research medical information online, with transgender youth proving particularly proactive in that area.

In April, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed an anti-bullying bill into law strengthening protections for LGBT students and students with disabilities.

Previously, 'Same Difference': Documentary Film Looks at LGBT Youth - VIDEO


Wisconsin Superintendent Apologizes For Pro-Gay Video After Three Parents Complain - VIDEO

Kidsreact

Responding to complaints from three parents, Superintendent Karen Schulte of the Janesville School District of Wisconsin apologized for showing a video entitled "Kids React to Gay Marriage" at Craig High School on April 11 during the national Day of Silence against LGBT-bullying.

Even though students from the school's Gay-Straight Alliance chose the video and  had it approved by faculty advisers and the principal, the parents who complained felt that it was biased because it only presented one-side of the same-sex marriage issue.

Nick Crow of The Janesville Gazette writes:

Three parents wrote letters complaining that students shouldn't have been shown the video, but the majority of parents didn't have an issue with it, Schulte said…

She said board policy 6021, which regulates controversial issues in the classroom, was not followed in this instance because both sides weren't presented. The video focused on same-sex marriage but didn't make a connection to harassment and bullying, Schulte said.

... but she believes the student group who chose the video was "well intentioned" and that this is a "teachable moment" for those students.

In truth, the video starts with a focused on gay marriage and then moves onto bullying, hate crimes and anti-gay criminalization.

Watch the video in question AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Wisconsin Superintendent Apologizes For Pro-Gay Video After Three Parents Complain - VIDEO" »


Teacher Suspended For Comparing Gay-Straight Alliance To Drug-Users Club

David_foggin_psa

David Foggin, a teacher at Parkersburg South High School in West Virginia, has been suspended for four days by the Wood County School District for posting an image on Facebook comparing his school’s gay-straight alliance with a club for drugs, drunks and deer poaching.

FogginHis post had an image advertising the GSA’s next meeting and the following text written by him:

“Club meeting at PSHS!! Rally around them and show ur support. We are also considering a drunks-t totaller club, drugged/sober club, smokeless tobacco vs smokes club, street racing, and deer poaching clubs. Please donate and support us. Thank u!!! I think I hear the drag already zinging.”

The county school board is investigating the matter and considering whether or not Mr. Foggin’s will be paid during his suspension.


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