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GLSEN's impact on high school students.

Founded in 1990 by a group of teachers from Massachusetts, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has been working for decades to improve the safety of LGBTQ+ students in their educational environments. Bullying, discrimination, and abandonment are serious problems that many LGBTQ kids and teens deal with every day not only at school, but in their homes as well.

GLSEN continues to work extremely hard to ensure the safety and respect of every student in every educational environment, and they have done so in a variety of ways. GSAs, commonly known as Gay/Straight Alliances, have been spreading through and around Wichita and Kansas since the start of GLSEN.

Currently there are 23 schools in the Wichita and surrounding areas that either have a GSA or are working towards developing one, 17 schools have official clubs (two of which are middle schools), and this year there is officially a GSA in every Wichita high school. These clubs provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ kids and teens to feel free and comfortable, and they are also an excellent place for people to find an accepting friend group that can last for years.

Liz Hamor, a hard-working and dedicated GLSEN organizer, notes "schools with GSAs have safer environments for all students."

Hamor is one of the major contributors to the incredible progress that has been made in Wichita. The Greater Wichita Chapter of GLSEN's primary goal, as Hamor puts it, is "to have safe spaces for students and kids" and educate both students and teachers on how to deal with bullying and harassment.

The importance of creating a loving and accepting environment for students is extremely important to GLSEN, and the Wichita area has done an excellent job with creating GSA clubs.

Teacher involvement is extremely important in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students, and the GLSEN organization has an excellent way to prepare teachers for the difficulties that come with bullying and discrimination. The Professional Development and Training for Educators is available every few months for teachers to attend. It is about six hours long and focuses on how teachers can be a resource of safety and acceptance for all of their students.

Hamor makes it clear that in order for students to feel safe in their environments, they need teachers and administrators to "address bullying and harassment, be a visible ally, and use LGBTQ+ friendly curriculum." Without support from the staff of the school, students will most likely not feel comfortable in their educational environment.

The Greater Wichita Chapter of GLSEN has done incredible work in Wichita and the surrounding areas, and in the next few years they will surely do even more to create safety and acceptance for all LGBTQ+ students. "Every child deserves to be respected, valued, and loved" Hamor said. Because of the GLSEN organization and people like Liz Hamor, we are one step closer to a world of acceptance.

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Title Annotation:For Youth By Youth About Youth
Author:Parker, Isabella
Publication:Liberty Press
Geographic Code:1U4KS
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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