LGBTQ Students Are Asking These Simple Things Of Their Allies At School

" ... listen to what we have to say and respect us for who we are!"

The new school year is revving up, and young people are getting back in the groove — reuniting with friends, turning in their summer homework, getting a new course load, and meeting teachers. But not everyone experiences such an easy transition. For some students, namely those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LBGTQ+), reentering school can not only be an intimidating experience, but it can be a dangerous one as well. 

According to a 2015 National School Climate survey conducted by GLSEN, 85 percent of LGBTQ teens in the U.S. were verbally harassed during the past school year, and 59 percent heard homophobic remarks frequently or often throughout the day.

"These hostile atmospheres make LGBTQ youth feel disrespected, unwanted, and unsafe," states GLSEN, whose research also shows such a climate negatively impacts educational success, leading to fewer students planning to attend college, and having lower self-esteem. 

Though these statistics may be worrying, they can be changed by ensuring more campuses are inclusive and affirming spaces for all. To that end, the GLSEN organization has been working since 1990 to bring educators, students, and communities together so that every K-12 student can feel safe, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. 



"By 2020 GLSEN seeks to engage more than 1 million students in 28,000 K-12 schools, each year, to continue building on the success of these efforts to drive down the percentage of students who do not feel safe in their own schools," the organization says in a statement given to A Plus. 

As part of its mission, it has dubbed September 25-29 Ally Week— a week to engage in "student-powered programs where LGBTQ K-12 students and LGBTQ educators lead the conversation on what they need from their allies in school."

To kick off the conversation, GLSEN has asked LGBTQ students to voice what they need from their allies using the hashtag #MyAllies. 

In the weeks leading up to Ally Week, students have used the hashtag to tell others what they would like from them during and outside of school. Some students simply asked for respect and acceptance, while others requested allies advocate for their LGBTQ friends when their voices are silenced. 

"Advocate for me when I'm unable to give my pronouns or correct someone," says one Twitter user, while another student offers a graphic illustrating the difference between gender and sexual identity for those who may not know. 

The hashtag is a springboard for conversation, and a helpful way for anyone less familiar with LGBTQ issues to know where to start. 

Involvement doesn't stop with the hashtag. Leading up to Ally Week, K-12 student leaders and educators are invited to register their participation, so they can receive the latest resources and updates for Ally Week. With such resources, they can better facilitate productive conversations in the classroom and in GSA student clubs. 

GLSEN also provides a helpful guide for anyone that'd like to conduct their own Ally 101 workshop, where they can teach others what an ally is, why they are important, and to encourage "effective ally behavior."  Additionally, everyone, in and out of school, is encouraged to sign up for GLSEN's Thunderclap "to send the message loud and clear that LGBTQ students deserve allies that listen and take action."

We are so excited to see what else comes out of Ally Week as we continue to work toward a world where LGBTQ students never have to feel uncomfortable or afraid to attend school. 

Check out some of the Tweets below to see what other students are requesting from their allies this upcoming Ally Week:





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