YOUR WORDS YOUR VOICE
Readers editorialize on ageis, bullying, trans discrimination and more.
As the chair of GLSEN Atlanta and a recent high school graduate, I have many discussions with LGBT students across Georgia. The more I talk with them, the clearer it is that they don’t want to hear about “it gets better” anymore. Instead, they want to make it better now.
It seems that for as long as we can think back, “it gets better” has been the main token of advice the adult community has handed down generation after generation. But with today’s group of students, it’s time the entire LGBT community came together to finally win the battle of making Georgia schools more inclusive.
When we formed GLSEN Atlanta just over a year ago, the objective was to come together to support students as they go through the tox- ic environment in our schools. In 2013, Georgia schools saw eight out of ten LGBT students being verbally harassed based on their sexual orientation while three in ten were physically harassed based on their sexual orientation and one in ten were physically assaulted based on the way they expressed their gender.
The worst part is that 65 percent of students who were harassed or assaulted in school never reported it to school staff, and 56 percent never told a family member about the incident.
Despite the horrendous climate these students face in their schools, over 20 schools in the state have Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar student groups designed to support LGBT students.
In schools with GSAs, students were almost 20 percent less likely to report feeling unsafe, while also reporting teachers were significantly more likely to intervene when hearing homophobic remarks.
Now, GLSEN Atlanta is trying to empower Georgia’s LGBT student leaders to go beyond GSAs to make a difference in their schools and communities.
GLSEN has partnered with Georgia Equality to create GSA Connect and the Metro Atlanta LGBTQ Student Leadership Conference. GSA Connect is a digital connection among the more than 50 middle school, high school and college GSAs in Georgia.
For the first time ever, Georgia finally has a solid and unified network of GSAs full of passionate and driven students. But now, they need support from the greater LGBT community to help them make a difference.
As this year moves forward, students need adults to become involved in their school communities in many ways. You can donate and/or volunteer with GLSEN Atlanta by visiting glsen.org/atlanta, or you can also help by sponsoring GSA events.
Today’s youth are more out and courageous than ever before. As members of the LGBT community, we need to come support them and help them to finally change the way LGBT youth view school. We need to finally make Georgia schools safe and supportive places for all students.
“It seems that for as long as we can think back, ‘it gets better’ has been the main token of advice the adult community has handed down generation after generation. But with today’s group of students, it’s time the entire LGBT community came together to finally win the battle of making Georgia schools more inclusive.”