The Phoenix Chapter of The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Awarded $150,000 Grant From The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

GLSEN Phoenix, a nonprofit organization focused on creating safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students, has been awarded a three-year, $150,000 grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. Working on the school, district and legislative levels, GLSEN strives to ensure all students are treated with respect and feel valued at school, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The grant will allow the organization to grow its staff and volunteer base and be able to take a more proactive approach to supporting student leaders, teachers and school staff.  It will also increase its ability to impact public policy.

“At our Foundation, we deal in hope – hope for a happy and fulfilling life regardless of race, religion, roots, economic status, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said American entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Parsons. “GLSEN is working to ensure a safe and positive learning environment for all LGBTQ students so their hopes and dreams can become reality.”

GLSEN’s research shows that LGBTQ youth continue to report high levels of anti-LGBTQ remarks at school from both fellow students and school staff. The bullying includes not only name calling but threats and, too often, physical and sexual assault. This level of harassment negatively affects a student’s ability to learn due to increased absenteeism, poor academic performance and lower educational aspirations. The anti-LGBTQ bias can also have a profound impact on a student’s overall health and well-being.

“GLSEN is doing important work in the fight for equality in the LGBTQ community,” said businesswoman and philanthropist, Renee Parsons. “Because the experiences you have in school can shape your entire life, all students should be protected, encouraged and allowed the opportunity to grow into happy, thriving adults.”

GLSEN Phoenix works to interrupt the patterns of discrimination and harassment that face LGBTQ youth. Today, the organization works with more than 150 schools in the Greater Phoenix Area to deliver professional development workshops to K-12 teachers and school staff. Additionally, GLSEN advocates for the reform of anti-bullying, anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies, and supports student-led Gay Straight Transgender Alliance (GSTA) clubs.

“This incredible grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will help sustain our work and expand and strengthen our student organizing and education programs and leadership team,” said Ricardo Martinez, GLSEN Phoenix Chair. “We’ll be able to reach even more youth and formalize our policy program so that we can affect lasting change.”

This significant investment from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will enable GLSEN Phoenix to move closer to its goal of ensuring safe schools for all students. To help meet this goal and sustain local engagement, GLSEN Phoenix invites community members to join the Parsons in investing in today’s youth. The need is critical as the local chapter has recently faced increased demand to support LGBTQ students in rural areas, trans and gender-nonconforming students, students of color and students with disabilities – particularly in underserved school districts.

“We started in Phoenix 15 years ago with just a handful of volunteers,” said Dr. Madelaine Adelman, co-founder of the GLSEN Phoenix Chapter. “From the beginning, despite our limited resources, our mission-driven volunteers and supporters have helped us recognize amazing growth, and we are excited to be able to expand that reach even farther.”

GLSEN Phoenix will host its annual “Sparkle, Glitter, GLSEN” fundraiser on Thursday, November 15, 2018. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, ticket sales, other ways to donate or to volunteer with GLSEN Phoenix, email info@glsenphoenix.org or visit www.glsen.org/phoenix.