GLSEN’s work in secondary schools, like the distribution of the GLSEN Safe Space Kit to every middle and high school in the country, has shifted the needle towards respect for all. But at a time when several states are attempting to roll back the rights of LGBTQ students, especially transgender students, there’s still so much progress to be made. Our work in elementary schools may hold the greatest potential. It’s during elementary school that students develop a sense of a self, family and community, while learning how to value differences and think critically about the world.

That’s why GLSEN, with the generous support of Wells Fargo, is distributing 5,000 copies of Ready, Set, Respect!, GLSEN’s flagship resource for elementary educators. Ready, Set, Respect! provides kindergarten through fifth-grade educators with lesson plans on name-calling, bullying and bias; family diversity; and gender diversity. Through the fall, GLSEN and Wells Fargo will distribute 5,000 copies to elementary schools across the country, reaching 2.2 million K-5 students with the essential message of respect and kindness for all. 

In June, GLSEN began this distribution in the Napa Valley Unified School District in Napa, Calif. In a workshop facilitated by Jenny Betz, GLSEN’s Director of Education and Youth Programs, nearly a dozen elementary school principals, vice principals and other educators from across the district learned about the toolkit and discussed how they can incorporate Ready, Set, Respect! into their schools’ existing strategies for diversity and inclusion.

Jenny Betz trains elementary educators from Napa Valley Unified School DistrictJenny Betz trains elementary educators from Napa Valley Unified School District

“It was an incredible opportunity to have a district-wide conversation with elementary administrators about how to make respect for all a reality for all students and families,” said Betz. “Ready, Set, Respect! helps create young people who are respectful, accepting and self-aware and who will contribute productively to society as they grow older.”   

The group of educators also met with John Lake, Vice President and LGBT Segment Manager at Wells Fargo, who was able to hear about some of the issues they are facing in their schools, from accommodating young transgender students to helping their staff understand the importance of LGBTQ inclusion. Following the workshop, he presented the first of the 5,000 copies of Ready, Set, Respect! to Maren Rocca Hunt, the Executive Director of Elementary Education at the school district.

John Lake and Maren Rocca Hunt, who received the first Ready, Set, Respect! of the distribution campaignJohn Lake and Maren Rocca Hunt, who received the first Ready, Set, Respect! of the distribution campaign

“Wells Fargo is proud to continue supporting GLSEN in a way that will impact millions, helping instill in students the values of respect and diversity – values that we share closely with GLSEN,” said Lake.

As part of the distribution of the toolkits, GLSEN will also launch a new professional development training for elementary educators with a number of GLSEN Chapters, whose volunteers will distribute the toolkits to educators in their local communities.

Together, GLSEN, Wells Fargo and elementary educators across the country can help make the world a place in which every child learns to respect and accept all people.

Want to make your local school a place where students learn to value diversity and kindness? Share Ready, Set, Respect! with elementary educators in your community.

GLSEN's Ready, Set, Respect!