GLSEN: Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network
What is GLSEN?
GLSEN is a national activist group focused on, according to the organization’s website, “championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education.” GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) stands for the “Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educator Network.”
GLSEN is the primary touchpoint between the LGBTQ activist agenda and K-12 schools.
The organization claims that its efforts are about “school safety” and says its mission is “to transform our nation’s schools into the safe and affirming environment all youth deserve.”
GLSEN creates programs, resources, and research to advance its transgender agenda in schools.
Schools and students are influenced directly by GLSEN’s:
- Teacher trainings
- School policy guides
- School gender and sexuality alliance (GSA) clubs
The organization also promotes its agenda indirectly by collaborating with school associations and professional organizations including:
- School Superintendents Association
- American School Counselor Association
- National Association of Elementary School Principals
- National Association of Independent Schools
- National Association of School Psychologists
- National Association of Secondary School Principals
- National School Boards Association
- National PTA
- National Education Association
The organization spends over a quarter of its annual budget on media relations and marketing, including developing marketing campaigns for GLSEN’s “days of action” promotions. GLSEN uses “days of action” such as “Solidarity Week,” “No Name Calling Week,” and “Day of Silence” as a way to garner school-wide visibility for the LGBTQ agenda.
The History of GLSEN
Although GLSEN currently promotes itself as a “youth safety” organization, it was founded in 1990 as a “teachers’ network” by Kevin Jennings, a high school history teacher at the time.
Jennings founded GLSEN, originally called GLISTN, the “Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network”, after writing an article about his “experiences as an openly gay teacher for the National Association of Independent Schools’ magazine, Independent School.”
GLSEN uses a “youth safety” message to achieve political goals.
GLSEN partners with LGBTQ activist organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to achieve political goals. These organizations influence White House policy through the Biden administration’s “Gender Policy Council,” which was established in March 2021.
At the HRC’s 1995 Leadership Conference, Jennings explained how the coalition of activists were “reframing” their message to “safety” and using youth to achieve political wins.
“We immediately seized upon the opponent’s calling card–safety,” he said. He further explained how using schoolchildren was an effective political tool: “We made sure these youth met with elected officials” and so “we won the final vote in the [Massachusetts] Senate 33-7 as a result.”
Jennings said he was an “aggressively out undergraduate activist” in college. He led GLSEN for 18 years. He served as Assistant Secretary of Education in the Obama administration. He is currently CEO of Lambda Legal, another LGBTQ activist organization.
GLSEN renamed itself GLSEN, the “Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educator Network,” in 1997 in order to better align with its “safety” messaging and youth-activism efforts.
After policy objectives like gays openly serving in the military and same-sex marriage were enacted during the Obama administration, LGBTQ activist organizations like GLSEN seem to have adopted a more radical agenda, to justify their existence and fundraising. They are now pushing transgender issues–critical gender theory indoctrination in schools, “gender-affirming” care for young people, the Equality Act and the rewriting of Title IX to include gender identity. In schools, students are encouraged to take “pledges,” and participate in “protests” about so-called “anti-LGBT bills.”
GLSEN underwent a “strategic refresh” in 2020. The organization’s focus is now “racial, gender, and disability justice.”
In a January 2022 interview, GLSEN’s executive director, Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, who self-identifies as “nonbinary” and uses “they/them” pronouns explained:
“LGBTQ+ young people in schools and their student groups, like GSAs, have always been the hub, kind of the breeding ground, the soil from which these sparks of activism come up. What we understand is that young people—period—are going to help us understand the vision forward and the way forward to the future.”
The chairman of GLSEN’s board of directors is Rocio Inclan, the senior director for social justice at the National Education Association (NEA teachers union).
GLSEN provides its resources free of charge to schools around the country. GLSEN is funded by donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations active in LGBTQ efforts.
The Human Rights Campaign encourages donations to LGBTQ activist groups including GLSEN through the HRC’s “Corporate Equality Index” scoring system and corporate “coalitions.” GLSEN and other LGBTQ activist groups use Pride month (June) to solicit donations. Last year, GLSEN received a $1.5 million donation from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation “to support LGBTQ inclusivity in K-12 schools.”
In its 2021 IRS 990 tax filing, GLSEN reported $9,169,692 million in annual revenue. It spent $1,191,277 for media relations, $742,359 for education and youth programs, $873,071 for “research” to support its claims, and reported $1,821,294 in other miscellaneous expenses.
GLSEN engages with schools and schoolchildren through what it calls its “four supports”: teacher trainings, school policy guides, curriculum, and school gender and sexuality alliance (GSA) clubs.
A school’s school association, accreditor, and various professional education associations often reinforce compliance with GLSEN’s programs.
GLSEN communicates with teachers through its “educator network.” Teachers receive GLSEN’s “resources,” “research,” and “current information on LGBTQ events and celebrations” to, according to GLSEN’s website, “plan for and implement a more inclusive curriculum including direct information and new resources for GLSEN days of action.”
GLSEN categorizes its “work” in three broad buckets: “programs,” “resources,” and “research.” The “work” seems to focus on promoting the transgender activist agenda in schools and school policies systemically, throughout the country.
- Programs include “days of action” on GLSEN’s calendar such as “solidarity week,” “no name calling week,” and “day of silence.” These campus-wide events are billed as “student led” but are heavily promoted and directed through GLSEN’s “educator network” teacher emails. Often, all students are encouraged by teachers and administrators to participate.
- GLSEN also provides “professional development” teacher training workshops. GLSEN markets its workshops not only to teachers, but also to administrators, counselors, paraprofessionals, librarians, nurses, bus drivers, district staff, school resource officers, and cafeteria workers. Workshop topics include “allyship” and how to “utilize curriculum inclusive of LGBT people, history and themes.”
- GLSEN promotes “LGBTQ+ affirming athletic policies” through its “changing the game” program and “coaches guide.” GLSEN has indicated that it will be publishing an “LGBTQ students and school sports participation research brief” in advance of efforts to rewrite Title IX to include the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” GLSEN provides a link to the “demand IX equity for everyone” pledge form posted on the National Women’s Law Center’s website.
- GLSEN provides schools and school districts with a 16-page “model” policy guide for “transgender and nonbinary students.” The document supports “gender-affirming” care such as social affirmation. For example, it directs schools to input name changes as “preferred name” in school databases without parent permission. It calls for gender-neutral bathrooms and sports participation grouping by gender identity.
GLSEN provides resources for students and educators and for school-based “genders and sexualities alliances” GSA clubs. It also provides “policy” guides, “webinars and workshops” and “virtual resources.”
GLSEN publishes a “monthly public policy postcard” to announce upcoming events and political “action alerts.” For example, the April 2022 postcard included an announcement for GLSEN’s “day of silence” event on April 22 and an “action alert” to “urge folks to contact their Senators asking them to pass the Equality Act.”
GLSEN publishes “research” to give credence to its claims. It produces a “national school climate survey” reporting on the “experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in our nation’s schools.” The children pictured on the cover of GLSEN’s report appear to be elementary-school age. They all have raised fists. The report features children marching in a “Pride” parade to “demand safer schools.” Pride month is a key fundraising event for GLSEN and other LGBTQ activist organizations.
The gender ideology and transgender activism parents are seeing in their children’s schools are not isolated incidents. It is part of a coordinated effort by national transgender activist groups that have systemic influence on schools across the country.
GLSEN is the touchpoint for getting the transgender activist agenda into schools
GLSEN’s programs, resources, and research include the political talking points of the most influential transgender activist organization in the country, the Human Rights Campaign. GLSEN’s work is highly political and their influence on schools introduces activism and confusion to schoolchildren. Parents want schools to focus on academics, not activism.