This morning—like every other school day—parents across the country started their day by packing lunches, tying shoe laces, and walking their children to bus stops. As they send their children off to learn and grow each day, their minds often race with worries. Will my child make friends? Will she pay attention in class? Will he encounter bullies?
Parents have enough to worry about for their kids. The fear of bullying shouldn’t add to their concerns.
Unfortunately, for parents of LGBT youth—and for LGBT youth themselves—bullying is not just a concern. It’s often an everyday reality. According to GLSEN’s latest National School Climate Survey, 74 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 55 percent because of their gender expression.
And it doesn’t stop there. LGBT students who routinely face bullying and discrimination are more likely to get lower grades, skip school, and drop out. They are also less likely to attend college. The result of bullying is clear: children lose hope and their opportunities diminish.
Hope and opportunity are values at the very heart of the communities that Wells Fargo serves. That’s why we are committed to standing firm against bullying, especially during Bullying Prevention Month. It’s also why, over the last several years, Wells Fargo has supported GLSEN’s goal of placing a GLSEN Safe Space Kit in every middle school and high school in the U.S.
Working together, we achieved that goal. Each Kit contains GLSEN’s Safe Space stickers, Safe Space posters, and GLSEN’s Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students. We hope that these simple tools help educators become allies to LGBT youth and show students they have the support they need—and provide the hope and opportunity to help them thrive.
The results are uplifting. A recent evaluation of GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit, which Wells Fargo was proud to support, shows educators who received the Kit are making a difference. Nine out of 10 taught their students about the importance of respecting all people. Three-quarters intervened when they witnessed anti-LGBT behavior, such as bullying and biased remarks.
For all of us at Wells Fargo, the success of this program shows that we can truly make a difference in the fight to end bullying. That's why Wells Fargo supports organizations such as GLSEN in their commitment to stopping the bullying of LGBT youth.
By investing in community outreach through efforts like the distribution of GLSEN’s Safe Space Kits, we hope to address the issue of bullying head-on and create an educational environment where all students can thrive and reach their maximum potential.
Hope Hardison is the Chief Administrative Officer and HR Director of Wells Fargo.