GSA Network congratulates our colleagues at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance who championed a safe schools bill that just became law in Illinois. On June 27, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 3266, the Prevent School Violence Act, which defines bullying for the first time in Illinois law and explicitly prohibits bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, as well as other personal characteristics.
During the month of June, GSA activists took to the streets of California’s cities, towns and communities to celebrate 40+ years of the LGBT civil rights movement. Forty-one years ago, on June 28, 1969, queer youth, drag queens, and transgender folks fought back against a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a queer bar in New York City. For three days afterwards, the LGBT community of New York City rioted against the long-standing homophobia and transphobia they faced everyday.
It was late September of 2009, when a student told me, “I don’t think a lot of people are going to join that group, something like that.” I had just started collecting signatures to form the first Middle College High School Gay-Straight Alliance. I was more nervous than I have ever been. Asking for people’s signatures was hard enough, but now I had to actually run this club. Despite how hard it might be to get people excited about a new club or speak in front of large audiences, I knew that I had to start the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at my school. It was a matter of life and death.
In fantastic news this week the New York State Senate passed the "Dignity for All Students Act," which will prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, weight or disability in New York schools. The law
In the fall of 2009, GSA Network made the strategic decision to participate in the Public Allies program and invite two Public Allies to join our staff. Public Allies is an organization that matches youth leaders who are interested in working in non-profits with organizations who are seeking new talent. For GSA Network, the partnership with Public Allies made complete sense as both organizations are striving to develop young leaders.
On June 16, 2010 closing arguments begin in the federal trial challenging the constitutionality of California's Prop 8, the ban on marriage for same-sex couples that voters passed in November 2008. Judge Vaughn Walker issued a set of questions that he asked each side to address in their closing arguments.
On June 8th, four GSA Network youth leaders won a collective eight scholarships at the 4th Annual Los Angeles LGBTA Youth Awards held at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theater.
On June 9th the U.S. State Department announced new guidelines for issuing passports to transgender people. What does this mean for transgender youth?
The new guidelines are a huge win for transgender students who have historically had difficulty accessing identification that reflects their gender, such as a driver's license or school ID card. The new guidelines no longer require people to undergo gender reassignment surgery to change the gender marker on their passport.
GSA Network offers our congratulations to the thirteen high school seniors who won an eQuality Scholarship this year! The high school students will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship from the eQuality Scholarship Collaborative, which awards students in Northern and Central California who have promoted understanding of and equality for the LGBTQ community. Additionally, one nursing student will receive a $5,000 scholarship and one medical student will receive a $2,000 scholarship. GSA Network is a proud member of the eQuality Scholarship Collaborative.
This past weekend GSAs throughout California and the nation marked the first annual Harvey Milk Day on May 22nd. After lobbying the California Legislature to adopt Harvey Milk Day for two years, students celebrated their hard won victory by organizing events in their schools and communities. Students held educational rallies, movie screenings, gave out cookies with milk, talked to their peers, served Harvey Milkshakes, and even had birthday cakes for Harvey!