Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from GLSEN)
Jump to: navigation, search
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Founded 1990
Founder Kevin Jennings
Type Educational
Area served
United States
Formerly called
Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN, /ˈɡlɪsɨn/) is an organization in the United States that seeks to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in K-12 schools. GLSEN is headquartered in New York City and Washington, D.C.. As of 2009, there are forty chapters across the country.[1]

GLSEN supports gay–straight alliances (GSAs) along with sponsoring the annual National Day of Silence and No Name-Calling Week and providing resources for teachers on how to support LGBT students, such as "Safe Schools" training.[2] It also sponsors and participates in a host of other "Days of Action", including TransAction! Day, Ally Week and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Organizing Weekend.


Founded as the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network (GLSTN) in 1990, the organization began as a local volunteer group of 70 gay and lesbian educators. At that time, there were two gay–straight alliances in the nation, only one state with policy in place to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, and a general lack of awareness of the needs of LGBT students. There were few, if any, resources available for teachers to discuss LGBT issues. However, groups of concerned individuals began to establish chapters across the country, advocating locally and regionally for safe schools for students who were, or were perceived to be, LGBT.

In mid-summer 1994, GLSTN became a national organization with the founding of the first chapter outside Massachusetts, in St. Louis, and in 1995 GLSTN hired its first full-time staff person, GLSEN’s founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. In 1997, GLSTN staged its first national conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in response to the legislature’s effort to prevent the formation of GSAs in the state by banning all student groups. In 1997 GLSTN changed its name to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in order to attract broader support.

In 2000 the Chicago chapter of GLSEN was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.[3]

More than 3,600 GSAs have registered with GLSEN, which has approximately forty full-time staff, a governing board of twenty members and two advisory committees at the national level. In addition, nearly forty Chapters are affiliated with GLSEN on local levels. GLSEN has hosted more than 8 national conferences to bring together student leaders, educators, chapter leaders and activists. Students from more than 5,000 middle and high schools registered with GLSEN as 2007 Day of Silence participants.

Think Before You Speak campaign[edit]

On October 8, 2008, GLSEN and Ad Council released The Think Before You Speak Campaign, designed to end homophobic vocabulary among youth, through the use of television, radio, print, and outdoor ads.[4][5]

Fistgate controversy[edit]

Main article: Fistgate

In 2000, the leader of the conservative Parents' Rights Coalition of Massachusetts secretly taped one of the fifty workshops in "Teachout 2000", titled "What They Didn't Tell You About Queer Sex and Sexuality in Health Class: Workshop for Youth Only, Ages 14-21" . Students discussed sex in a workshop "billed as a safe place for youths to get their questions about their sexuality answered" in the session's Q&A section.[6] Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll angrily pledged to investigate the role of two Department of Education staffers and a consultant who hosted workshops that he deemed were of a "prurient nature, and not educational, and what we heard suggests that the discussion contributed absolutely nothing to the students' understanding of how to avoid AIDS and HIV." The tapes generated a firestorm of controversy when they were broadcast over radio, and critics pointed out legal prohibition of taping of people without their permission. Although the conference was privately funded, the workshop was facilitated by Department of Education staffers, rather than GLSEN.

GLSEN Respect Awards[edit]

GLSEN organizes the annual GLSEN Respect Awards to honor personalities and organizations who have significant contribution to gay–straight alliances.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "We Moved!". GLSEN. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  2. ^ Safe Schools Training Series via Wayback Machine
  3. ^
  4. ^ "The Campaign". 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  5. ^ "Think Before You Speak". 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  6. ^ "Critics contend safe-sex forum far too graphic." archived copy Union-News (Springfield, Massachusetts), May 17, 2000, page A8; from staff and wire reports.

External links[edit]