TAKE GLSEN’s 2011 NATIONAL SCHOOL CLIMATE SURVEY

LGBTQ YOUTH – SPEAK OUT ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL
EXPERIENCES!

The 2011 National School Climate Survey is GLSEN’s
seventh national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)
youth. It is a crucial tool in GLSEN’s mission for fighting bias in K-12 schools
across the nation. The information gathered from this survey will help GLSEN to
advocate for the rights of all students to be treated with respect in their
schools. Many students in the past have also used the survey information to
advocate with their teachers and principals for safer and more welcoming
schools.If you attended high school or middle school sometime during
the past school year (2010-2011), identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender or queer, and are at least 13 years old, tell us
about your experiences in school. (If you did not complete the entire school
year you can still participate in the survey.) The survey is
anonymous.

Take the survey here: Take the 2011
National School Climate Survey

If you have any questions about the survey, contact Dr. Emily Greytak, Senior
Research Associate, at egreytak@glsen.org or Dr. Joseph Kosciw,
Senior Director of Research & Strategic Initiatives, at jkosciw@glsen.org.

A report of findings from the 2011 National School Climate Survey will be
available in fall 2012. If you would like to see how GLSEN has used the survey
information in past years, you can see the report from our 2009 survey by going
to: Report of 2009 National School Climate Survey findings

Pakistan’s Lesbians Live In Silence, Love In Secret

by Habiba Nosheen
January 17, 2011
http://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132711102/pakistans-lesbians-live-in-silence-love-in-secret

The names in this story have been changed to protect the women’s identities out of concern for their safety.

Five years ago, Fatima was 23 and studying law in Lahore, Pakistan. She wore blue jeans and a loose shirt and sported short boyish hair. That was the first sign she wasn’t a typical Pakistani woman.

She leaned in to share a secret she had revealed to only a few other people before: “I’m lesbian,” she said hesitantly.

“I think I knew since a very early age,” she said. “It felt quite isolating, I feel. Like, I didn’t see people or kids around me feel the same way.”

In an Islamic country like Pakistan, lesbians can be imprisoned for life. However, Fatima says, it is not the law that gays and lesbians fear — it’s family and neighbors, whom she suspects murder many gays and lesbians in honor killings.

A Secret Teen Romance

Fatima grew up in a house with sisters who were always obsessing over boys, a reality that Fatima says she could never relate to.

“From the time that I’ve known this about myself, every day that I’ve felt that I’d wish I was just like everybody else,” she says.

But her attraction to women became undeniable when she found herself in love with her best friend in high school. She was 18. And she finally worked up the nerve to tell her.

“What was really surprising, I really didn’t expect her to like me back. I really didn’t,” Fatima says. “It was one of the best surprises in my life. I just thought, ‘I am going to tell her and she’s just going to be like, ‘Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you?’ And the fact that she didn’t say that just blew my mind.”

My insides are at war with each other. There are days I wake up and think I should just embrace myself. And there are days I think I should just kill myself.

– Fatima, a fake name to protect the woman who was interviewed The two dated for years, but always in secret.

They would hold hands walking down the street as many women do in Pakistan — it’s simply regarded as “sisterly love.”

And that idea of “sisterly love” allows female lovers to stay under the radar, even more easily than in the West — until they reach the age of marriage. That’s when a lesbian relationship comes into conflict with the very fabric of Pakistani society.

After years of a secret romance, Fatima’s girlfriend suddenly left her, saying there was no future for them in Pakistan. She married a man.

Fatima says she can understand why her girlfriend made that decision.

“I mean, I think from the time that you’re born you’re socialized into believing that homosexuality is unnatural,” she says. “It is a disease, and it is completely prohibited.”

That sense of abnormality, Fatima says, haunts her.

“My insides are at war with each other,” she says. “There are days I wake up and think I should just embrace myself. And there are days I think I should just kill myself.”

Leaving the country, Fatima says, is not an option. She says she thinks it’s her calling to be a human rights lawyer in Pakistan, to change the country, which is in severe crisis.

‘I Hated That Girl’

Fatima recounts the day when she decided to tell her grandmother that she had been in love with her best friend.

According to Fatima, her grandmother said, “That’s why I always hated that girl. I just hated that girl.”

“But miraculously, when she came back from work, [my grandmother] was completely fine — as if that discussion never had taken place,” Fatima says. “The way I looked at it, she was in complete denial of the whole thing.”

Shortly after, Fatima married a man, in an attempt to conform to Pakistani values. She told him before the wedding that she was attracted to women, but like so many others in her life he had assumed it was a phase that she’d get over. But two months into her marriage, Fatima met another woman, Kiran, and the two fell in love.

After months of begging, Fatima’s family finally agreed to let her get a divorce. “I said, ‘I am a lesbian. I am in love with a woman. I need to get out of this marriage, please,'” she says. “All hell broke loose, essentially.”

But Fatima won her battle for a divorce. She says meeting Kiran gave her the strength to fight — gave her something to fight for.

They’re now living together, and Fatima is a human rights lawyer.

But now there were other problems for the couple, Kiran says.

“There were security concerns in that her husband, who was in a bad place, was freely talking about this situation to other people,” she says.

Kiran says that made them scared for a while, with so many people knowing their secret.

But, Kiran says, “it would take some doing” for people to really imagine they are lesbians.

“Yeah, it’s not within the realm of possibility,” Fatima says, holding her girlfriend’s hand as the two giggle. “People don’t usually contemplate two women living together, that they are into each other. Good for us.”

Kiran agrees.

“Because in our society, women don’t have sexual needs, desires, drives, whatever. And those that do, run brothels,” Kiran says. “Either you are a nice girl, or you are a fast girl. So if we are fast girls, it means that men come and visit us. If we are nice girls, it means that girls come and visit us, which works out.”

‘It Gets Better’ Starting Now for Gay Youth

‘It Gets Better’ Starting Now for Gay Youth
By SUSAN DOMINUS
Published: October 8, 2010

Read the article at  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/nyregion/09bigcity.html?_r=1

Student creativity

How students successfully confronted ‘Day of Silence’ with a “Day of
Truth’ Mass Resistance outlines how students at Chelmsford High School in
Massachusetts were ‘bold and unapologetic’  in their pursuit of the
anti-gay Day of Truth. Read more:
http://www.massresistance.org/docs/gen/10c/day_of_truth.html

NJ Library removes queer teen book after pressure from 9.12 group

A public library system in Burlington County, NJ has removed the book
Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology after pressure
from a local Glenn Beck 9.12 group. The libraries removed the book even
though there was no formal complaint after being contacted by the activist
who succeeded in getting the book banned from the regional high school
several months ago. Read more on change.org:
http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/libraries_remove_queer_teen_book_under_conservative_pressure

Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Target: U.S. Senate        
Sponsored by: Human Rights Campaign

The U.S. has never had this much momentum to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — the discriminatory law that forces gays and lesbians to live a lie if they want to serve their country.

But there’s a big problem. As the Senate prepares for a make-or-break vote, Sen. John McCain and his friends in radical right-wing groups are putting enormous pressure on your senators to vote against equality.

McCain’s anti-gay vendetta is so desperate that he’s announced he will help block the Senate from repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the right-wing Family Research Council is making outlandish and bogus claims that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will increase sexual assault in the military and “undermine the religious liberties” of military chaplains.

We need your help to drown them out and show the Senate that a majority of Americans want this law off the books — once and for all.

Click here to sign message to your Senators…


National LGBTQI Young Adult Tobacco Needs Assessment

NYAC (National Youth Advocacy Coalition)  is happy to announce that the LGBTQI Young Adult Tobacco Needs Assessment survey tool is ready! After the tireless attention of the Tobacco Working Group over the past few months, we have designed a survey and process that we think (and hope) will be very useful in collecting information about behaviors, attitudes, and facts about how LGBTQI young adults are or are not using tobacco products.

Not only will we be able to make programmatic and policy recommendations for the nation, but we anticipate being able to make cross-regional comparisons and make specific regional statistics available to your organizations. In exchange for supporting and promoting this survey initiative, NYAC will donate $125 to the first 50 organizations that sign up to participate.

Each young adult who completes a survey will be entered into a rolling drawing to win one of the following Gift Cards – 10 cards worth $50, 5 cards worth $100, and 1 card worth $150.
Click here for more information or to take the survey online.