For Youth

    Youth Have the Power to Make It Better NOW!

    You can change your community and influence school policies for the entire country right NOW!  Below is a guide with big steps and small steps, things you can do on your own, and projects that require other people’s help. You may not feel ready to take all of these steps and that’s OK: these are suggestions, not commands, and only you know what will work for you and your school. Just remember: youth have the power to Make It Better!

    Make It Better At Your School - Start a GSA!
    Make It Better In Your State
    Make It Better In The Nation
    Make It Better Beyond High School

     

    Make It Better At Your School

    Start a GSA
    The simple existence of a Gay-Straight Alliance club has been shown to help make students feel safer at school.  If your school doesn’t have one, starting a GSA is one of the most effective first steps you can take to make it better.  

    GSAs can change your school’s culture by raising visibilitystopping slurs, and educating youth about LGBT people. Many GSAs host events like poster projects, school assemblies, visibility, and anti-slur campaigns. GSAs can also provide a safe supportive space where youth can get together to talk about their experiences and break through feelings of isolation. 

    Learn the 10 Steps to starting a GSA and check to see if there is a local organization in your state that supports GSAs through the National Association of GSA Networks or by finding a local GLSEN Chapter.

    Watch a short video from the American Civil Liberties Union on how to start a GSA today.

    Make It Better Semester
    Join our online activist camp(aign) to Make It Better this semester!  Students should be able to take more than the summer off from bullying. Through weekly camp sessions, the Make It Better Summer Camp(aign) connected LGBT and allied youth across the country. Now, we're empowered to make it better this new semester!

    Interrupt Bullying & Harassment
    The most important thing you can do in your school is to interrupt bullying and harassment when you see it happen. Study after study has shown that bullying has real and tragic consequences for LGBT youth and disrupting bullying can lead to a positive outcome for all students at the school. Check out stopbullying.gov for resources from the White House's anti-bullying campaign.

    Encourage your friends, teachers, and school staff to also interrupt bullying and harassment. Here’s a guide on how to stop discriminatory and bullying behavior, and send them over to “For Adults” for more resources.

    Know Your Rights
    Did your school out you to your parents, ban your GSA, or stop you from bringing a same-sex date to the prom? That's not just unfair; that's illegal. Read the ACLU's rundown on your rights as a student, and make sure that your school is following the law. If your school is breaking the law, check out our Get Help page for tips on how to file a complaint and seek legal advice.

    Advocate for a Safe Schools PolicySafe Schools for All
    Some districts already have a safe schools policy, but many do not. You can help to get a safe schools policy in your school district. Safe schools policies can cover issues related to bullying, harassment, and discrimination against LGBTQ youth.  The ACLU has a “How To” guide for youth and adults.

    Create a Safe Schools Training
    Safe schools trainings for teachers and administrators can be vital in getting them to intervene -- and you can bring one to your school! Check out the ACLU’s guide for students to create a Safe Schools Training.

    Create LGBT Visibility in your School
    There are resources that will increase the visibility of teachers, administrators, and students who support LGBT students and will not tolerate bullying or harassment. These resources are available on the Safe Schools Coalition’s and GSA Network’s websites. You can also show GroundSpark’s videos at your school -- such as “Straightlaced,” “It’s Elementary,” or “That’s a Family” -- or Southern Poverty Law Center’s film “Bullied.”

    Make It Better In Your State

    Contact a State Equality Group
    Contact your local state equality group and find out how you can support efforts to pass safe schools legislation and prevent bullying and harassment in schools. Find your state equality group by visiting the Equality Federation website or, if one is not available in your state, find your local ACLU chapter.

    Call the Head of your Department of Education
    Call the head of the Department of Education in your state and ask what her or his office is doing to stop anti-LGBT bullying in schools. To find out the person who heads your state and their contact: visit the US Department of Education website. Click on your state. Under "Contacts," select “State Department of Education.” This should list the number and contact person for your Department of Education.

    Make It Better In The Nation

    Support National GSA Day! 
    Celebrate the first National GSA Day to recognize the courage and work that goes into building safe school environments for all students. Check out Iowa Pride Network's GSA Day website to see how you can get involved and recognize the work of youth across the nation!

    Contact Your Congress Member
    Urge your Senators and Representatives to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R. 1648/ S.506) & Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998/ S. 555), which will help make the lives of LGBT youth better! Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected directly to your representatives. Ask them to cosponsor both bills. Or click here to get talking points, identify your Members of Congress, and find their direct numbers.

    Contact the US Department of Education to Report Harassment, Bullying, or Discrimination
    PFLAG and GLSEN have launched a groundbreaking project to help young people report incidents of bullying and harassment to the US Department of Education. Learn how on the Claim Your Rights! website.

    Make It Better Beyond High School

    Choose an LGBT-Friendly College
    It doesn't just get better by going to college. You have to choose the right college. Learn which campuses take responsibility for a safe learning environment for LGBT youth through the Campus Pride Index. Use the Index to find campuses that have "come out" to recruit LGBT youth and view the LGBT-friendly policies, programs, and practices of campuses across the country.  According to Campus Pride, only seven percent of colleges and universities have institutional commitment for LGBT students.   There are campuses already working to make it better for LGBT youth.  Plus you can attend regional Campus Pride LGBT-friendly college fairs.
     
    Advocate & Assess Your LGBT-Friendly Campus
    Every college has the responsibility to ensure a safe, welcoming campus climate for all people -- including LGBT people.   In 2010, Campus Pride issued the "2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People," the most comprehensive national research done on LGBT campus climates. This research can assist in advocating for further assessment and adoption of LGBT policies, programs, and practices.  In addition, the Campus Pride Index is a national online benchmarking tool which allows students, faculty/staff, and administrators to assess their LGBT progress and find ways to improve campus climate.   Colleges receive a confidential report and have the option to make the results public as well.  The only way to Make It Better on your campus is to learn where your campus needs to improve and how does it compare to others nationally.