No one should be bullied or called names simply for being who they are. Still, millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are made to feel like they don't fit in every day; some even feel unsafe. Check out GLAAD's Amplify Your Voice Resource Kit to find tips and information for educators, parents and youth.
No one should be bullied or called names simply for being who they are. Still, millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are made to feel like they don't fit in every day; some even feel unsafe. Check out GLAAD's Amplify Your Voice Resource Kit to find tips and information for educators, parents and youth.
You can stand up against bullying! Join MTV, Facebook, plus celebrities including Andy Cohen, Shay Mitchell and Steve-O by wearing purple for Spirit Day on October 20. Learn more!
How can I amplify my voice?
How can I support my LGBT students?
How can I support my LGBT child?
Resources for LGBT teens and student allies
Promoting transgender equality
How can I be an ally online?
Staying safe on Facebook
Coping with teen suicide
Show your Spirit on October 20!
Anti-Bullying Literature List
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth often face serious problems with bullying and harassment in America's schools. What should be a safe place for learning can instead become a dangerous and isolating environment for any student who regularly faces verbal and/or physical attacks.
Tips on how to stand up against anti-LGBT bullying:
- Know that everyone has the right to feel safe.
- Respond to anti-LGBT language and behavior: When you hear homophobic comments and jokes, even when not directed at a specific individual, let the person(s) making the comments know you find them offensive.
- If you see anti-LGBT bullying, let the perpetrator know his or her behavior is wrong and harmful. If the situation is such in which you do not feel safe intervening, alert a teacher or administrator immediately.
- If you know someone has experienced anti-LGBT bullying, let them know you are on their side and make an effort to spend time with the person at school.
- Confront your own prejudices and homophobia, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Know that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, should be treated with dignity and respect.
If someone you know displays thoughts of suicide or other self-harm, notify a teacher or administrator right away and call the Trevor Project Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) to speak with a trained volunteer counselor.
- The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN offers several resources, including a Jump-Start Guide for Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Safe Space Kits, among others.
- The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is committed to promoting safe and healthy learning environments, and has a number of resources available on their website at www.aft.org, including Tips for Elementary and Secondary Students. AFT also offers a list of anti-bullying laws by state.
- PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center offers several resources for students, including a Student Action Plan Against Bullying. PACER’s Teens Against Bullying website also offers interactive videos that help young people stand up and speak out against bullying.
- To find out more about campus hate crimes and university anti-violence and crime prevention programs, check out Stop the Hate.
- Sometimes rejection and peer pressure in combination with other factors may lead to thoughts of suicide. The Trevor Project offers a 24-hour helpline for LGBT and questioning teens: toll free (866) 4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
- If you see LGBT people being misrepresented in the media, contact the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) at glaad.org.
- LGBT people are often harassed and some are physically hurt or worse just for being who they are. If someone in your life has been a victim of a hate crime, contact the police first, and then turn to a local chapter of the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) for additional assistance. To find an Anti-Violence Project chapter in your area, check out the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). Through public education, training and local programs, this group addresses the pervasive problem of violence committed against and within the LGBT community.
- The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues. For information about LGBT-inclusive legislation in your area, visit www.hrc.org.
- COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) parent/s. For more information on how to support your LGBT parent, visit www.colage.org.
In Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) study, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation. GLSEN found that inclusive anti-bullying and harassment policies, supportive school faculty and the presence of school clubs like Gay-Straight Alliances are all factors that lead to safer schools and better school performance.
- Know that all students should feel safe in the classroom for purposes of a healthy learning environment.
- Even in jest, anti-gay slurs have a very harmful impact on LGBT students. Ensure that such comments made in your classroom are dealt with seriously, regardless of whether they were intended to be intimidating or “humorous.”
- Understand that homophobic and transphobic remarks are just as harmful as any other comments that demean and denigrate a young person, and should be disciplined accordingly.
- When possible, include the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in curriculum, to emphasize they are an important part of our society. (For sample lesson plans, click here.)
- If an LGBT student approaches you about having been bullied, report the matter to school administration immediately and let the student know you are on his or her side.
- If you are aware of any student experiencing anti-LGBT bullying, reach out to the student and ask if you can better assist the student in any way. Alert the student’s other teachers.
- The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has a number of resources available on their website to assist teachers in combating bullying, including live webinars. Other AFT resources include:
AFT has also compiled list of state laws that deal with bullying. To see what protections your state offers, click here.
- With the new school year upon on us, you have a wonderful opportunity to take steps to ensure that your classroom is welcoming and supportive of all students. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) offers educational resources for educators. Among them:
GLSEN also offers two training programs for educators:
- Training Workshops for Educators and Community Leaders
- The GLSEN Lunchbox
- Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation's children. Teaching Tolerance provides free educational materials to teachers and other school practitioners in the U.S. and abroad. Bullying activities include:
- Bullying and LGBT Students
- A Bullying Quiz
- A Bullying Survey
- Allies: A Discussion Activity
- “Bullied: A Student, A School and a Case that Made History” – A documentary film, complete with a two-part viewer’s guide and standards-aligned lesson plans and activities.
- The National School Climate Center offers several resources, including through Educator Bully Prevention Guidelines.
 Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Diaz, E.M., and Bartkiewicz, M.J. (2010). The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
The safety and well-being of all students is of the utmost priority for school administrators, faculty and staff. This responsibility extends to anyone and everyone employed by the school district, from principals to bus drivers.
School administrators have a duty to promote a safe and inclusive learning environment. A number of organizations, including the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and Teaching Tolerance have devised strategies, guides and lesson plans for creating a more LGBT-inclusive environment in the school district. A list of tools is available here: http://www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/bullying/specialpops.cfm.
It’s important that auxiliary staff, including bus drivers, janitors and cafeteria workers, also take an active role in ensuring that every student feels safe when at school. While a student might feel safe in the classroom, he or she might also feel especially vulnerable to harassment while at lunch or when travelling on the school bus. School officials can help by calling on every staff member to take action whenever they hear or see anti-LGBT bullying, even if the incident might be perceived as “a joke.”
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has devised special guidelines and recommendations for bus drivers in disciplining student behavior.
The Safe Schools Coalition recommends a number of actions school districts can take, including:
- Adopt strong, explicitly protective policies like the new Washington State model policy and procedure. Be sure the school district’s bullying policy protects students based on gender identity and real or perceived sexual orientation. The school board’s nondiscrimination policy should prohibit discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. (To see model policies, click here.)
- Provide training for every single adult in a school, from bus drivers to coaches to teachers’ aides and the principal,
- so that they will all consistently and swiftly enforce the rules and talk with students about why, and
- so that principals will do proper investigations and levy productive consequences
- Provide supportive social environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students – whether they are being harassed or not – like gay-straight alliances (GSAs). Clubs influence not only members’ sense of belonging to school, there is even evidence that the presence of a GSA changes bystander behavior and improves connectedness for LGBT students who don’t attend meetings.
- Collect data (qualitative & quantitative) to track harassment and to measure each teacher, school and district’s progress and then make reducing harassment a part of every team member’s performance evaluation. (For help collecting data, click here.)
The Safe Schools Coalition can be reached at 206-451-SAFE (7233), and http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org.
- The National School Climate Center offers several resources, including:
Learning that your child is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) can be a difficult experience for parents. Many parents feel shock or fear. Some blame themselves, some reject their child, others want to be supportive but don't know how. Even parents who consider themselves accepting of LGBT people can react harshly to their own child's coming out.
If your child comes out to you, you may feel like you've lost the person you love. However, it is important to remember that this is the same person you loved just minutes before he or she told you. The very fact that your child felt comfortable enough to tell you speaks volumes about the relationship you share.
If you have a negative, knee-jerk reaction, do not be ashamed of this; try to accept the fact that you have had a shock for which few parents are prepared. Give yourself time to absorb the news, but do not take your anger or confusion out on your child. Though there is no "right" way to act when your child comes out, understand that now is a time to talk, to ask questions and, most of all, to show your child that you love them.
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) offers information and support to help you through the process of accepting your LGBT family member, including:
- Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People
- Faith in Our Families: Parents, Families and Friends Talk About Religion and Homosexuality
PFLAG also offers the Families of Color Network, a resource for family, friends and LGBT people of color.
Sometimes rejection and peer pressure in combination with other factors may lead to thoughts of suicide. The Trevor Project offers a 24-hour helpline for gay and questioning teens: toll free (866) 488-7386.
Resources for LGBT teens and student allies: An overview of youth-oriented LGBT organizations and how to contact them
Teen & Student Allies
It is not uncommon for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) young people to spend years working up the courage to come out to their parents, family and friends. LGBT youth tend to fear rejection by those closest to them and feel isolated, as if they are the only ones who feel the way they do. They often fear being "discovered" at school by saying the wrong thing or dressing a certain way. They may also feel pressure to fit in by laughing at homophobic jokes told at school or in the locker room.
It is important for straight allies to understand how a closeted youth may feel before he or she makes the decision to come out. If the news is met with a negative reaction, it can be very damaging to someone revealing such raw emotions.
For LGBT youth, it is just as important for them to understand that they've had years to wrestle with their feelings, while parents and friends may experience the initial surprise — or shock — of being presented with this new information. Initial reactions are often unexpected, and both sides should allow for mistakes to be made. Be prepared to forgive.
Once the young person comes out, they should know they are no longer alone. Many high schools and colleges already have groups where LGBT youth and straight allies come together for support and friendship.
- If you have questions about being LGBT, check out PFLAG's Be Yourself: Questions and Answers for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.
- To find out more or to learn about starting a gay-straight group in your school, check out the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
- For information on creating a safe space for LGBT people and their allies at your college or university, check out Campus PrideNet. Also, the Lambda 10 Project is a great resource for LGBT fraternity and sorority members and straight allies.
- TrevorSpace is a social networking site for LGBT youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies.
- Sometimes rejection and peer pressure in combination with other factors may lead to thoughts of suicide. The Trevor Project offers a 24-hour helpline for LGBT and questioning teens: toll free at (866) 4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
Transgender people often face discrimination and hostility from their families, friends and coworkers. These harsh reactions usually stem from fear and a basic misunderstanding of the transgender community. By being an ally and showing your support of transgender people, you are doing your part to help end ignorance surrounding transgender issues.
- If you know transgender students in your school, community, or in your after-school activities, make an effort to get to know them.
- Ask your local or school library to carry books that deal positively with transgender people and youth.
- Make sure that transgender people are welcome to join your sports teams, after-school activities, and clubs. (For help, click here.)
- Hold a fundraiser, like a bake sale or a walk, and donate proceeds to an organization that provides support for transgender people.
Find out if your town or state has transgender-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances and share what you find out with your friends and family. About 43% of U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction with explicit laws that ban employment discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
- Advocate for school policy that supports and protects transgender students. (To see a model non-discrimination policy, click here.)
- Submit a story idea to your school paper about the transgender community. This is an effective way to express opinions and distribute information on transgender issues from a variety of voices.
- Plan or attend a Day of Remembrance Event every November 20. This is a yearly opportunity to remember those lost to hate-motivated violence directed towards the transgender community, and also a time to encourage people to take action to make the world safer.
- Start or attend a transgender support or education group at your school. These groups are often a vital way that transgender people connect with one another.
- Start a conversation about gender-related books or gender issues that are important to you.
- Encourage fair, accurate and inclusive media coverage of transgender issues in your school newspaper. Many people learn about transgender people from watching television or reading stories in the newspaper. GLAAD encourages journalists to use its Media Reference Guide when writing about transgender issues. If you see transgender people being misrepresented in the media, contact us at glaad.org.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people.
With the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, Americans are more connected to one another than ever before. Social media sites also afford users with an opportunity to share information, opinions and comments– some which can be hurtful or inflammatory.
Below are tips on how to be an advocate for equality when online:
- You don’t have to identify as LGBT to be offended by anti-LGBT comments. Let those making these comments know their behavior is harmful and offensive to anyone who thinks it’s wrong to target a group of people because of who they are. If necessary, report the offending user to the host website.
- Delete any anti-LGBT comments others might post to your online profiles, even if those comments are intended as “jokes.”
- Be proactive and share articles, stories and/or news segments that highlight the challenges facing LGBT people, and which send a positive message in support of equality.
- Join, follow or ‘like’ online LGBT-affirming groups and organizations like GLAAD, GLSEN and GSA Networks, and share information about their work with your network.
It Gets Better
The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people that they are valued, and though circumstances may seem hopeless at times, it can and does get better. By posting messages of positivity and acceptance on YouTube, millions of Americans have taken a stand for LGBT young people with stories of hope and resilience.
To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, advocates, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more.
For more information on how to create your own It Gets Better video or take the It Gets Better pledge, visit www.itgetsbetter.org
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call The Trevor Project at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) right now. There are people standing by ready to talk to you. The Trevor Project’s website (www.thetrevorproject.org) has many great resources that allow you to learn from the experiences of others and connect with other LGBT kids like you.
Bullying isn't limited to harassment in the classroom, the hallways or the locker room. Countless teens and young adults are bullied online each and every day – a phenomenon known as 'cyberbullying.'
In 2010, GLAAD and Facebook teamed up to address anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) cyberbullying, working to make the internet a safer place for everyone. Together with GLSEN, HRC, PFLAG, the Trevor Project and MTV's A Thin Line Campaign, GLAAD and Facebook launched the 'Network of Support' to more effectively address issues faced by the LGBT community while online.
Below are tips on how to report harassment online and help put an end to anti-LGBT cyberbullying:
- Report harassment - Facebook has report links throughout the site, on virtually every page, and all reports are anonymous. Facebook relies on everyone who uses the site to be an extra set of eyes and ears and to report content that may violate user policies.
- Block bullies - When you use the "Block" feature on Facebook, any ties you currently have with the person you've blocked will be broken, and they won't be able to see your profile or contact you. You can block people by clicking on the Account link and then selecting Privacy settings where you'll see Block Lists at the bottom, or by clicking the 'Block' link at the bottom of any profile.
- Stick up for others - Don't let anyone you know be victimized by ignorance. Reach out and offer a word of support, and remember to report the bully to Facebook.
- Think twice before posting - It's also important to be aware of how your own behavior can harm others, even unintentionally. Before you post a comment or a photo that you think is funny, ask yourself if it could embarrass or hurt someone. If in doubt, don't post it.
- Get help if you feel overwhelmed - Facebook has relationships with organizations that can help if you or someone you know is in danger of self-harm. Visit the Trevor Project's website for information about warning signs, or call the Trevor Lifeline at (866) 4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) immediately if you need support. Trained volunteer counselors are ready to talk to you 24/7 and all calls are free and confidential.
- Know you're never alone - The Network of Support is comprised of people and organizations that understand the unique challenges that LGBT teens face and have tons of ideas, resources and stories of hope for you to tap into. Visit the Network of Support Facebook page for more information about the organizations working to make the internet a safer place for everyone.
Facebook and Time Warner, Inc. have also teamed up to launch Stop Bullying: Speak Up, a multi-media campaign designed to educate parents, teachers and youth about the actions that will help protect young people from the impact of bullying. For more information, and to take the Stop Bullying: Speak Up pledge, visit www.facebook.com/stopbullyingspeakup.
Suicide is now the second leading major cause of death among high school and college students. Studies in the United States have shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adolescents and adults have two to six times higher rates of reported suicide attempts, compared to straight adolescents and adults.
Though it’s not always evident when someone you know might be at risk of suicide, warning signs are often present. Suicide can be prevented by recognizing warning signs and responding effectively.
Warning signs of suicide include:
- Observable signs of serious depression:
- Unrelenting low mood
- Anxiety, psychic pain and inner tension
- Sleep problems
- Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
- Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
- Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die
- Making a plan:
- Giving away prized possessions
- Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm
- Obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications
- Unexpected rage or anger
Although most depressed people are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed. Serious depression can be manifested in obvious sadness, but often it is rather expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from activities that had once been enjoyable.
5 Key warning signs for depression in teens:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness, often accompanied by anxiety.
- Declining school performance.
- Loss of pleasure/interest in social and sports activities.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Changes in weight or appetite.
Responding to warning signs:
- Take it Seriously - Fifty to 75 percent of all suicide victims give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. Imminent signs must be taken seriously.
- Be Willing to Listen - Start by telling the person you are concerned and give him/her examples. If he/she is depressed, don't be afraid to ask whether he/she is considering suicide, or if he/she has a particular plan or method in mind. Ask if they have a therapist and are taking medication. Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated. Avoid the temptation to say, "You have so much to live for," or "Your suicide will hurt your family."
- Seek Professional Help - Be actively involved in encouraging the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately. Help the person find a knowledgeable mental health professional or a reputable treatment facility, and take them to the treatment.
- Follow-up on Treatment - Suicidal individuals are often hesitant to seek help and may need your continuing support to pursue treatment after an initial contact. If medication is prescribed, make sure your friend or loved one is taking it exactly as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. Usually, alternative medications can be prescribed. Frequently the first medication doesn't work. It takes time and persistence to find the right medication(s) and therapist for the individual person.
Resources for Schools:
Suicide in a school community is tremendously sad and often unexpected. Faced with students struggling to cope and a community struggling to respond, schools need reliable information, practical tools and pragmatic guidance.
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools includes general guidelines for action, do's and don'ts, templates and sample materials, and covers topics such as Crisis Response Helping Students Cope, Working with the Community, Memorialization, Social Media, Suicide Contagion and Bringing in Outside Help.
- In any situation that appears to be an emergency, call 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or The Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 4-U-Trevor. Trained volunteer councilors are ready to speak with you 24-hours a day.
Source: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. AFSP has launched an LGBT Initiative, with research and data on focused on suicide rates and attempts among the LGBT population. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. http://www.afsp.org.
On October 20, millions of Americans will wear purple for Spirit Day as a symbol of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to remember those lives lost to suicide.
Join media outlets, celebrities, schools, landmarks and corporations in #SpiritDay and speak out for LGBT youth.
How can I participate? Sign up for GLAAD’s e-mail list to receive the latest updates!
1. Wear purple on October 20!
2. RSVP on GLAAD’s Facebook event page and invite your friends!
3. Download a kit for how you can organize for Spirit Day in your community
4. Visit glaad.org/SpiritDay in October to turn your Twitter and Facebook profile pics purple
6. Help promote by downloading this graphic for your blog or website
What is Spirit Day?
The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan, is a simple one, not dissimilar to the idea of "Spirit Week" held in many high schools, and can be summed up – according to Brittany - in three words: Everyone Rally Together.
Spirit Day honors the LGBT teenagers who have taken their own lives. But just as importantly, it's also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support who they are.
In 2010, Hillary Clinton, Ricky Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, the cast of Glee, Clay Aiken, Kristin Chenoweth, Perez Hilton, Khloe Kardashian, Alyssa Milano, Ryan Seacrest, Jill Zarin and so many more participated.
LGBT youth also saw support from hosts of CNBC, E! News, The Today Show, The View, as well as hosts of nightly news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC. Check out all of the participating companies, celebrities, organizations and media outlets!
Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride that was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978.
Wearing purple on October 20 is a simple way to show the world that you stand by these courageous young people and a simple way to stand UP to the bullies.
As a student journalist or member of your school’s newspaper staff, you have a unique opportunity to help your peers understand the challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth face today and/or raise awareness of the accomplishments and contributions of LGBT individuals throughout history.
Whether writing a newspaper article, submitting a Letter to the Editor or producing a segment for your school’s television news channel, you have a chance to share stories that change hearts and minds. But it’s important to keep in mind that accuracy and fairness are key to presenting articles or segments that responsibly portray LGBT lives and issues.
GLAAD’s College Media Reference Guide includes a glossary of LGBT terminology, as well as information about problematic and offensive language that should be avoided by journalists: www.glaad.org/publications/collegemedia.
Similarly, GLAAD’s Media Essentials Guide provides you with the tools to develop and strengthen your media work, no matter how much or how little experience you’ve had with the media in the past: www.glaad.org/publications/mediaessentials.
Below are sample story ideas to get you started on your next article or broadcast segment:
- Profile leaders from your school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). If your school doesn’t have a GSA, write an article explaining the benefits of a safe space for LGBT and allied students.
- Did you know October is LGBT History Month? Profile a noted LGBT leader, such as Harvey Milk, Ellen DeGeneres or someone in your own community. Or, write an article detailing the significance of such events as the Stonewall Riots, the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or about LGBT-inclusive legislation in your community.
- Does your school welcome same-sex couples at school dances? Why or why not?
- Does your school have anti-bullying measures in place which protect students based on sexual orientation and gender expression? Why or why not? To see a list of anti-bullying laws by state, click here.
- Significant dates & events:
- January (week fluctuates) – No Name-Calling Week
- February 12 – National Freedom to Marry Day
- March – Women’s History Month
- April (day fluctuates) – National Day of Silence
- June – LGBT Pride Month
- June 28 – Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
- September (week fluctuates) – National Suicide Prevention Week
- September 23 – Celebrate Bisexuality Day
- October – LGBT History Month / National AIDS Awareness Month
- October (week fluctuates) – Ally week
- October 11 – National Coming Out Day
- October 20 – Spirit Day
- October 26 – Intersex Awareness Day
- November 20 – Transgender Day of Remembrance
- December 1 – World AIDS Day
School and community sports are a key area where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth have been excluded, discriminated against and/or harassed. Anti-LGBT attitudes are still far too prevalent in the world of sports, but that is changing for the better every day. GLAAD, alongside GLSEN and other organizations, have launched campaigns to promote LGBT inclusion in professional, amateur as well as K-12 sports.
GLSEN’s Game Plan: Changing the Game project aims to foster an athletic and physical education environment based on principles of respect, safety an equal access for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Respect for all teammates cultivates camaraderie and a healthy environment to focus on the game.
Among GLSEN’s tips for athletic directors and coaches are:
- Be a visible and active role model of respect and fairness for your team
- At the beginning of your sport season, make clear your expectations of respect for diversity among all members of athletic teams, including LGBT coaches and athletes
- Communicate to athletes and coaches that anti-LGBT actions or language will not be tolerated
- Use language that is inclusive of LGBT athletes and coaches
- Treat all athletes and coaches fairly and respectfully regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
- Do not make anti-LGBT slurs, jokes or other comments
- Schedule an educational program on LGBT issues in athletics for your team
- Expect the same standards of behavior from all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
- Let LGBT athletes or colleagues know that you are an ally and that you support them
- Help promote enthusiastic but respectful sports fan behavior at athletic events
GLAAD’s Sports Media Program works with LGBT athletes – both amateur and professional – and sports media outlets from ESPN to Sports Illustrated to elevate LGBT-affirming voices, stories and accomplishments from the world of sports. GLAAD also works to address the persistent problem of homophobia in locker rooms and on the stands by encouraging media outlets to investigate these issues and generate a conversation that helps change hearts and minds. The program also works to raise the profile of openly LGBT athletes through support of LGBT-focused sporting events such as the Gay Games.
Children’s/ Picture Books
By Trudy Ludwig
This book highlights the harm that can result from spreading rumors. The story follows Bailey, a new girl in school who befriends a girl named Maya. Bailey soon turns on Maya and spreads a rumor that Maya’s parents are getting divorced. Through the help of the school counselor, Bailey learns a lesson on how to pick friends and stay above the fray. Bailey eventually learns to reform her behavior. The book is for children ages 4 to 8.
“Confessions of a Former Bully”
By Trudy Ludwig (Author) and Beth Adams (Illustrator)
This work of fiction is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old bully. After finding herself in the principal’s office for harassing other students, Katie reflects on her actions through a journal. The writings, in scrap-book form, give insights on physical, emotional, and cyber harassment. The book is geared for grades 3 to 6.
“Nobody Knew What to Do” (2001)
By Becky Ray McCain (Author) and Todd Leonardo (Illustrations)
This picture book tells the story of Ray, a new kid at school who is targeted by bullies. The story is told from the perspective of a bystander, who finally decides to tell a teacher what is going on after Ray stops coming to school.i The school then stakes actions to resolve the issue, and Ray and the Narrator become friends.ii The book is geared towards young children, and reveals the steps that should be taken if bullying is witnessed.
“Say Something” (2004)
By Peggy Moss (Author) and Lea Lyon (Illustrator)
“Say Something” looks at bullying from a bystander’s perspective, and highlights the importance of speaking up. The protagonist stays silent when she witnesses the bullying of classmates, but begins to identify with them when she is teased. She responds by reaching out to another girl who is often harassed. The book is useful for identifying different types of bullying and generating discussion on how to stop the behavior. The book includes illustrations and is geared for young elementary school students.
By Trudy Ludwig (Author) and Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)
“Just Kidding” tells the fictional story of D.J., a new kid at school whose feelings are hurt by Vince, a boy who taunts him. Vince plays down the teasing by claiming he is “just kidding.” Hurt and confused, D.J. turns to his father, who comes up with defensive strategies. When these fail, D.J.’s teacher gets involved to stop the behavior. This picture book is geared towards elementary school students. iii
“My Secret Bully”
By Trudy Ludwig (Author) and Abigail Marble (Illustrator)
This book, written for elementary students, touches on this issue of friends who bully. The fictional story focuses on Monica, who is increasingly teased an excluded by her best friend Katie. The book highlights the subtle bullying that takes place among females and is often overlooked. Monica eventually overcomes her issues with Katie with the help and support of her mother.iv
By Trudy Ludwig (Author) and Maurie J. Manning (Illustrator)
“Sorry!” explores the problem of bullying and the insincere apology. The story follows Charlie, who is a popular boy who causes trouble but gets away with things by saying “Sorry.” After destroying a classmate’s science project, he learns from his teacher that his behavior is unacceptable and that empty works cannot undo his pranks. The book is for elementary students, and includes an afterword by apology expert Dr. Aaron Lazare and discussion questions.v
Books for Teens and Pre-Teens
“Please Don’t Cry, Cheyenne”
By Candy J. Beard
The book follows Cheyenne, a junior high student who is bullied for her family’s poor financial status and her plain looks. She suffers humiliation at the hands of a “rich clique.” The story illustrates Cheyenne’s journey towards inner strength.
By Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse’s “Speak” was named a 2000 Prinze Honor Book, and has earned about a dozen additional accolades. It tells the story of the fictional Melinda Sordino, a high school freshman who becomes an outcast after calling the cops on a summer party. The book follows Melinda as she loses her friends, interests, and spirals into depression. Her only solace is art class, where she receives the support of her art teacher. It is eventually revealed that Melinda was the victim of a brutal rape at the party, which prompts her peers to express sympathy and support.vi
“Letters to a Bullied Girl: Messages of Healing and Hope”
By Olivia Gardner, Emily Buder, and Sarah Buder
After Olivia Gardner, a 14-year-old Californian was severely taunted and cyberbullied, teens from a neighboring town decided to take action. They initiated a litter-writing campaign to lift her spirits that become the basis for this book. It contains letters from bullying victims, remorseful bullies, bystanders and advice from expert Barbara Coloroso (The Bully, the bullied, and the Bystander).
“Breathing Underwater” (2001)
By Alex Flinn
“Breathing Underwater” tells the fictional story of Nick Andreas, an abusive boyfriend, through his journal. The book reveals Nick’s thoughts through his turbulent relationship with his girlfriend, Caitlin, his abuse, subsequent restraining order, and his journey through rehabilitation in a court-ordered family violence class. The book is unique in that it looks at teen violence through the eyes of the aggressor.
By Alex Flinn
IN her second novel, Flinn focuses on why teens commit violence. The protagonist, Paul, is targeted by bullies when he moves from home-schooling to a wealthy prep school. He is harassed because he is the son of a poor single mom and only has one friend. He is soon manipulated by Charlie, a popular boy, who convinces him to hack into the school’s computers. Things take a turn for the worse when another bullied student commits suicide. Eventually, Paul becomes so enamored with Charlie that he considers planting a bomb in the school to gain his acceptance. The book follows Charlie as he learns about himself and his relationships.
By Jennifer Brown
Valarie and her boyfriend were bullied and create a “Hate List” in retaliation. Valarie finds herself in turmoil after her boyfriend opens fire at their high school. After her boyfriend kills 6 students and a teacher and takes his own life, Valarie must deal with the guilt from making the list. The book follows her healing process and highlights the complicated dynamics of teenage relationships. It is geared toward high school students.vii
By Kelley Powell Barcelona
Barcelona, a former middle school teacher, sheds light on the inner workings of female cliques. The book follows members of “the hive,” a group of four popular girls who torment other students. It is eventually revealed that Brook Stevens, the hive’s leader, displays aggressive behavior due to a turbulent home life. The book is meant to explore possible motivations for bullying, provide support for victims, and expose the pain caused by bullying.
“Tornado Warning: A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman's Life”
By Elin Stebbins Waldal
Elin Stebbins Waldal presents a personal account of her involvement in an abusive relationship as a teenager. She recounts her experiences with her abusive ex-boyfriend, who damaged her both emotionally and physically. She talks about how she healed from the ordeal, and how she prevents her own teenage children from facing a similar fate. The book has been honored with a Mom’s Choice Award. (NOTE: this book is relevant for teens and parents)
Self-Help for Children
“Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing With Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way
By Patti Kelley Criswell (Author) and Angela Martini (Illustrator)
This book provides defense strategies for bully victims, specifically females. It includes quizzes, quotes, and scenarios to help readers gain confidence, learn how to stick up to a bully, and determine when to ask for help from adults.
“Stick Up for Yourself! Every Kids Guide to Personal Power & Positive Self-Esteem”
By Gershen Kaufman, Lev Raphael, and Pamela Espeland
This self-help book promotes positive thinking and high self-esteem. It includes situational anecdotes and exercises for exploring one’s feelings and finding happiness. The School Library Journal says the book can be used independently, but is “most effective within the classroom, family, or guidance group.”
“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain”
By Trevor Romain
This self-help book targets children ages 8 to 13. The book uses illustrations and is easy to read. Romain gives advice on how to stand up to bullies and when to get help from an adult. It can be read on its own, or used as part of Romain’s “Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” curriculum set, geared for grades 5 and 6.viii The Trevor Romain Company also provides curriculums for grades 1-2 and 3-4.ix
Other books by Romain on the topic: http://www.amazon.com/Cliques-Phonies-Other-Baloney-Laugh/dp/1575420457/ref=pd_sim_b_1
“Speak Up and Get Along!: Learn the Mighty Might, Thought Chop, and More Tools to Make Friends, Stop Teasing, and Feel Good About Yourself”
By Scott Cooper
This book offers 21 strategies for expressing feelings, building relationships, conflict mediation, and dealing with bullying. Each technique is illustrated with examples. The book can be used by children who want to learn and adults who want to promote these types of skills.
“Please Stop Laughing at Me”
By Jodee Blanco
In this New York Times best-selling memoir, Blanco describes her experiences as a target of harassment from 5th grade through high school. Blanco was tormented for reporting bullying incidents to her teachers, and also for a medical condition that caused her breasts to grow at different rates. In the book, Blanco laments years of therapy and medication while her tormentors remained unscathed. She now travels the nation to tell her story and raise awareness about the dangers of bullying. Blanco followed up this book with a sequel, “Please Stop Laughing at Us,” in which she tells the stories of other children who have been bullied and offers her own advice.x
(NOTE: This book is geared for parents or teens.)
Guides for Adults
“Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls,” (2003)
By Rachel Simmons
Rachel Simmons is a Rhodes Scholar, former teacher, and director of the Girls Leadership Institute, an organization that offers camps and workshops to instill confidence in girls and promote healthy relationships.xi Simmons bases this book on the accounts of over 300 girls at 30 schools, and sheds light on a “hidden culture of silent and indirect aggression.”xii She highlights the less obvious forms of bullying, such as dirty looks, gossip, rumors, and relational aggression that girls often suffer from. Simmons offers advice for parents, teachers, and girls for how to end these destructive patterns. xiii The book was the inspiration of a Lifetime movie entitled “Odd Girl Out.” Simmons followed this work with “Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write about Bullies, Cliques, Popularity, and Jealousy,” (2004) a compilation of anecdotes, poems, and letters from Simmons' school visits.xiv
“The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle”
By Barbara Coloroso
This book is geared toward helping parents and teachers deal with bullying situations among children. Coloroso defines the roles of the bully, bullied, and bystander and analyzes ways to alter their behavior. Coloroso also provides insight on cliques, hazing, taunting and sexual bullying.
“Girl Wars: 12 Strategies that Will End Female Bullying”
By Cheryl Dellesega and Charisse Nixon
This guide to confronting bullying is aimed at adults, specifically parents. It presents strategies for preventing bullying among preteen and teenage girls and how to handle situations. Its promotes helping the bully deal with her issues; providing supportive role models; teaching communication skills; stressing assertiveness, not aggressiveness; learning conflict resolution skills; and identifying alternatives to bullying behavior.
“It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living” (2011)
By Dan Savage and Terry Miller
This book spurred from the “It Gets Better” project, a movement involving YouTube videos by celebrities, activists, organizations, and public figures. The videos conveyed messages of solidarity and encouragement for LGBT youth who are victims of bullying and harassment.xv The book version includes transcripts of these messages along with new accounts.xvi