Thursday, April 07, 2005
Open Letter to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue South West
Washington DC 20202
I strenuously disagree with your stand on PBS and the Postcards from Buster episode. Gay issues DO belong in the classroom -- although I cannot see that visiting a household headed by lesbian women can be counted as "raising the issue." Gay and lesbian children are IN our classrooms. Should they have to suffer persecution, bullying, harassment and even rape and murder because of who they are?
NO! And no person should suffer this treatment just because they are out of the mainstream in some way.
Please take a strong stand on behalf of ALL children to be treated with respect, dignity, and safety. Urge all schools to implement strong anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies that explicitly cover gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
Robert R. Zimmerman
copies to: Terry Bergeson, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction
Dr. Barbara Grohe, Superintendent, Kent Public Schools
King County Journal
Press Release: PFLAG Supports Day of Silence
Washington, D.C. - April 7 - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) strongly supports the students participating in next week's Day of Silence. The Day of Silence, April 13th, is an annual, national student-led effort in which participants take a day-long vow of silence to peacefully bring attention to bullying and harassment faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GBLT) youth and their allies in schools. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization that coordinates the Day of Silence, anticipates that 450,000 students in all 50 states will participate this year.
The Day of Silence brings attention to a chronic and dangerous problem, as PFLAG's Schools Assessment Survey found earlier this year. The survey, which focused on resources available to students, parents and faculty in schools across the country, found 70% of schools had no training for educators on how to stop GLBT bullying and 92% had no training for students on how to stop GLBT bullying.
"At a time when physical and verbal abuse against GLBT students has become an epidemic, the lack of resources and information to protect our children is shocking," said Jody Huckaby, PFLAG's Executive Director. "The voices of our GLBT young people have long been silenced in our schools and their plight only made worse by institutional indifference."
PFLAG parents, having too often seen their own children suffer physical or verbal abuse, are particularly supportive of the students' efforts on the Day of Silence. Sam Thoron, father of a lesbian and PFLAG's president said, "We know from personal family experience how damaging harassment at school can be. I salute the courageous students participating in the Day of Silence and call on school administrators and educators to stop ignoring these kids and put an end to bullying and abuse."
Day of Silence: How You Can Help
The Day of Silence, a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in collaboration with the United States Student Association (USSA), is a student-led day of action where those who support making anti-GLBT bias unacceptable in schools take a day-long vow of silence to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment -- in effect, the silencing -- experienced by GLBT students and their allies.
How can you help? To support your local schools in participation in the annual Day of Silence, April 13, 2005, find resources at http://www.dayofsilence.org/. Your participation could make a difference in the level of involvement in the community while letting GLBT students know they are not alone. TeachRespect.org also has some PSAs and other resources: http://teachrespect.org/. Contact your local schools, and find out what training teachers and staff are getting to better support LGBT students.
In separateness lies the world's great misery; in compassion lies the world's true strength. - Buddha