As a straight ally myself, I am acutely aware of the important roll allies play in creating school environments where all students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, feel like they can be themselves and still be safe and respected. I have seen firsthand how allies can, and have, “been the change,” whether that is by helping to build respect and understanding for LGBT students in their schools, or by speaking up for those who may not be in a position to speak up for themselves, or who may feel afraid to do so. The word “ally” is related to the word “alliance,” and I think that really defines the vital roll straight allies play perfectly. They are the second half of an alliance—a team—of students of all different sexual orientations and gender identities, together working for success and safety in schools all across the country.
Unfortunately, despite the necessity for straight allies—both students and teachers—in all schools, many communities are lacking in allies, in part because many don’t know how to start or help or speak up. They might not feel like they have an important place in the safe schools effort because they don’t identify as LGBT. And that’s where Ally Week comes in. Ally Week is a unique and significant week of action because it empowers straight students just like me to be an ally—a friend—to all their peers. By supporting, educating, identifying, and celebrating allies, Ally Week shows students that they can be a force for change and a force against bullying.
Everyone needs an ally, and everyone can be an ally. And that is why I will always enthusiastically celebrate and support Ally Week—and hope others will too!
Do you have an ally story? Share it with GLSEN & Ally Week!