Dear GLSEN family,
The last several days, as you might imagine, have been extremely difficult for us in Orlando and for the larger communities grieving at this time, as our hearts remain heavy after last Sunday’s tragedy. But I take comfort in sharing my experience with you and in knowing that across the country and world, we have each other’s support as we all move forward.
In Orlando, we feel a deep sense of grief but also an inspiring sense of solidarity. Last week, I attended one of many vigils honoring the victims of the tragedy. This vigil was as at Valencia College, where seven of the victims were students. Valencia’s GSA sponsor, whom GLSEN Orlando knows well, delivered beautiful remarks about the importance of creating safe spaces—off-the-cuff, genuine words that were exactly what we needed to hear. Her words were moving.
That same day, Thomas Lawson, a GLSEN Orlando Vice Chair, attended a press conference hosted by mayor Teresa Jacobs. A sense of solidarity was palpable there, too. Leaders of our communities—LGBT leaders, Latinx leaders, political leaders, leaders of faith—expressed not only their mourning but also their love. Especially now, it is truly encouraging to see diverse leaders come together and lend their voices of support.
As we move forward in the process of healing, which is only beginning, I hope that you, too, join us in solidarity. There are many ways to support:
- Attend a local vigil honoring the victims. We will forever memorialize the 49 LGBTQ and allied victims, most of whom were Latinx, we lost that night.
- Make a donation. Many fundraisers, such as the one by Equality Florida, are providing critical assistance to the victims’ families and the survivors. The OneOrlando Fund was also established in response to the tragedy to meet our community’s needs.
- Share resources. For folks directly affected in Orlando, the Camping World Stadium Family Assistance Center is providing a number of services and resources. For youth specifically, the Orlando Youth Alliance is a wonderful resource. GLSEN has also put together a short list of resources for educators across the country.
- Show your pride. I deeply appreciate seeing photos from LGBT Pride parades where people are showing their solidarity with us. Please continue showing your pride in your identities and communities—it is courageous and inspiring.
Thank you so much for the incredible support at this time. I don’t think you know how much it means.
Chair of GLSEN Orlando