Five high school students will be given a rare opportunity to share their personal bullying experiences with the President, First Lady, and top officials in the Federal government. The teens will advocate for continued protections of LGBT students, including the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act now being considered by both houses on Congress. “We applaud President Obama for engaging with young people and inviting them to share their stories with his administration. As their stories will detail, bullying is a public health crisis that affects students in schools around the country, and we welcome the administration’s support for bullying prevention efforts that truly leave no child behind, including those suffering because of anti-LGBT bias and behavior,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.
About the GLSEN Delegation:
Layne Gianakos has been involved in LGBTQ activism with GLSEN Connecticut since his freshman year at high school, following the murder of Lawrence King. Attending GLSEN National summits for training and working closely with GLSEN Connecticut has allowed him to initiate change in his state. One of his main projects has been a student leadership team for Connecticut which he trained alongside GLSEN Connecticut board members, preparing them to run workshops and reach out to schools and their GSA’s. Layne will be accompanied by his parents.
Dontaee Williamson has been a part of the GLSEN Jump-Start National Student Leadership team since 2010. This fall, he will begin his senior year as a dance/acting major at School of the Arts in Rochester, NY. Through his participation in GLSEN and the Gay Alliance, Dontaee has overcome multiple barriers related to coming out as gay and now works to empower his peers to improve school climate for local LGBTQ students and families.
Jessica Cohen has been a board member of the Rochester, NY chapter of GLSEN since 2005. Currently, she serves as the adult coordinator of the local youth leadership Jump-Start team. Both Jess and Dontaee work hard to educate the community about the importance of anti-bullying policies and practice. Having both overcome eating disorders, self-injury and suicide attempts as a result of internalized and external homophobia, they share the vision of creating healthy educational communities for all students. They will also be attending
Gen Farrell is a student from the Northern Virginia Chapter of GLSEN. Gen started working with GLSEN after noticing the day to day harassment of peers. Now feeling empowered to make a difference, Gen has developed a passion for Transgender rights.
Kaleigh Colson is a student from the Southern Maine Chapter of GLSEN. Kaleigh is Co-President of her school’s Gay-Straight-Transgendered Alliance as well as a community leader for LGBT civil rights in Maine. Kaleigh will be accompanied by her parents.
Article adapted by ProudParenting.com from original press release