GLSEN, the nation’s leading organization on LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education, has created No Name-Calling Week, an annual initiative to end name-calling and anti-LGBTQ+ harassment in schools. This year’s theme, #SafeToBe, urges participants to protect and support the LGBTQ+ youth—particularly those who are Black, brown or Indigenous—whose safety is at great risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing white supremacist and state-sanctioned violence. Coinciding with the start of a new administration, No Name-Calling Week signals a turning point and moment of hope for vulnerable LGBTQ+ students.
“We know that name-calling takes a heavy toll on LGBTQ+ youth, and students who face harassment and bullying are more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Deputy Executive Director of GLSEN. “Ending name-calling is a critical step toward building inclusive school communities where all young people can thrive, without fear for their well-being, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race or disability.”
Despite major progress for LGBTQ+ rights in recent years, the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ+ young people continue to hear anti-LGBTQ+ language at school. GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey revealed that more than two-thirds of LGBTQ students report experiencing verbal harassment (68.7%) based on sexual orientation and more than half (56.9%) based on gender expression.
“I’m sick of hearing homophobic and transphobic insults at school. LGBTQ+ students deserve to take pride in our own identities, not have other people label us with cruel and outdated language,” said Nic Oke (he/they), a high school student in Maryland and a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council. “No Name-Calling Week is about giving LGBTQ+ students a chance to feel respected and safe at school, just like anyone else.”
During No Name-Calling Week, GLSEN provides students, educators and families with the tools they need to disrupt bias-based bullying, including lesson plans, activity guides, free access to educational films and guides for virtual meetings. Students will connect virtually for interactive events, such as a story time for young students with activist Jazz Jennings, and the week will conclude with a virtual rally showcasing artwork and performances from LGBTQ+ students across the country.
“When students feel safe and valued, they’re better able to focus on their studies, engage with their classmates, and develop confidence within themselves and others, but LGBTQ+ student safety can’t be taken for granted,” said Kristy Self (she/her), a teacher in Oklahoma and a member of GLSEN’s National Educator Advisory Committee. “As an educator, it’s my job to teach my students about how to build respect in the classroom and in the community. It takes all of us from the principals to the school bus drivers to create an inclusive learning environment for our LGBTQ+ students.”
In recognition of No Name-Calling Week, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) will introduce a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of No Name-Calling Week, including urging local schools to adopt comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies that make schools safer for all students.
via press release