Just a few minutes ago, the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education made a groundbreaking announcement – it intends to collect data in schools nationwide about anti-LGBT bullying as part of its Civil Rights Data Collection, an influential survey that is used to inform government action.
I’m proud to say that GLSEN’s longtime leadership in Washington urging the government to take action played an integral role in making this change happen. You won’t believe the interaction I witnessed firsthand that confirmed that in the most amazing way! But before I tell you that story, first back to what this change means.
This amazing development is something to celebrate and hopefully a trend of good news coming out of Washington in the coming days. Making civil rights data collection LGBT-inclusive is a critical step toward ensuring LGBT students’ civil rights. It also will further document the need for schools and policymakers to take action to ensure that LGBT students have equal access to a quality education.
But the backstory to this major advance is also incredibly exciting.
On May 22, I was at the White House for a Harvey Milk Day event, accompanying a delegation of GLSEN student leaders and staff. As we waited for the program to begin, a senior official from the Department of Education came running over to one of our students, Liam Arne.
“I need to shake your hand,” he said. “Because of you, the Secretary of Education is adding LGBT students to one of the most important Department of Education data collection instruments. You asked in that meeting, and afterward he told us to get it done!”
A few months earlier, we had taken Liam and three other GLSEN student leaders to meet Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. These amazing students wanted to stand up to make a change, and we gave them an opportunity to tell their stories directly to Secretary Duncan in support of action that would create immediate and lasting impact.
LGBT-inclusive data collection may seem like a wonky goal. But let me tell you, data drives decision-making, and what is measured is what is valued when it comes to government action. Liam, one of GLSEN’s amazing student leaders, secured a huge advance for LGBT youth nationwide.
That makes me #GLSENProud.
GLSEN’s student leadership development programs support students like Liam Arne in making an amazing difference. We need your help to keep driving progress! Please consider a donation to help us continue to support students like Liam bring hope for a better tomorrow for LGBT youth.