For #ItsOnUs Week of Action, let's help shine a light on sexual assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and GLAAD is working with the It's On Us campaign to address the culture of sexual violence and bring awareness to sexual assault. The campaign is a pledge to hold others accountable for their behavior, be respectful of other people's right to consent or not, and to intervene before it happens. Together with the It's On Us campaign, we can work to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault.  It's on us to make a change.

This month, we are also focusing on the under-publicized effects of sexual assault on the LGBT community. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “gay men, LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities of color, LGBTQ and HIV-affected youth and young adults, bisexual survivors, and transgender communities [are the] most impacted by intimate partner violence.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that approximately one in eight lesbians (13.1 percent), nearly half of bisexual women (46.1 percent), nearly half of bisexual men (47.4 percent), and four in 10 gay men (40.2 percent) have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Additionally, a 2009 study revealed that approximately 50 percent of transgender people experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Sexual assault effects the LGBT community greatly, but is rarely discussed due to negative stigma, victim blaming, and fear of discrimination. This month, by talking about these issues are raising awareness about how sexual assault effects the LGBT community, we can work toward reframing sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something – big or small – in order to prevent it.

Today marks the first day of the It's On Us Week of Action, when we can focus our efforts and spread awareness about this issue. Throughout this week, GLAAD and It's On Us hope to engage students across the country through on-campus events and social media campaigns in order to send the message that sexual assault is unacceptable. There is plenty everyone can do to get involved. Individual involvement could be as simple and easy as posting about It's On Us on social media. Post a tweet or Facebook status with the hashtag #ItsOnUs, encourage others to take the pledge, and tell everyone how you're standing up to sexual assault. Additionally, if you have a group or organization that is interested in joining the campaign, you can take action by hosting your own event. Some examples of events that could get campuses involved are hosting a rally or march, petitioning and gathering pledges, hosting a roundtable discussion, making a PSA, and creating posters and banners to display around campus.

There are some college campuses that have already shown their support for the campaign. Last week, over 1,200 students and faculty and Gallaudet University hosted their own Day of Action event. Their program included a pledge drive, a campus rally, and a keynote address by university Present T. Alan Hurwitz. The Gallaudet University Day of Action was featured in a Washington Post article, which you can read here. In addition, there are over 250 other events scheduled for Sexual Assault Awareness month. To add your school or organization to that list, visit here.

Visit itsonus.org to learn more about how you and your school can get involved during the Week of Action! And to see more campus events happening, check out the It's On Us Twitter page. Look out for more updates from GLAAD on Twitter and Facebook during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.