Friday, October 10, 2008

University of Northern Iowa, Urbandale High School named “Best Gay-Straight Alliances”

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Roemerman, Director, Iowa Pride Network,
515-243-1110 (Daytime Phone) 515-371-8355 (Nighttime Phone)

University of Northern Iowa, Urbandale High School named “Best Gay-Straight Alliances”

(Des Moines) The University of Northern Iowa and Urbandale High School were presented with Iowa Pride Network’s Award for Best Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at the Annual Iowa Pride Network Honors program held in Des Moines during its annual Spring Soiree fundraising event.

The Iowa Pride Network Awards go to GSAs that have shown a committed effort to raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues on their campuses and in their communities and have pioneered programs that have increased the respect of LGBT people. Each application is evaluated on five categories: Education, Programming, Advocacy, Outreach and Community Service with consideration given to the impact their GSA programs and initiatives have on the climate and culture of their community.
“Both award-winning GSAs has worked hard to educate their campuses about the prejudices that still exist for LGBT and Straight Allied people and provided venues for their group, its members and classmates to have an open dialogue,” stated Ryan Roemerman, Iowa Pride Network Director.

In addition two very successful weeks of awareness, UNI’s GSA held weekly meetings that focused on body image issues, gay-marriage, transgender vocabulary, civil rights and LGBT history. GSA members participated in over 30 panel discussions for various residence halls and campus departments. The group is currently in the process of creating a fully established speakers bureau.

Urbandale’s GSA was active in helping pass Iowa’s Safe Schools Law and has taught fellow students about their rights, what teachers should do to protect them, and what they can do to protect other students. GSA members also fought to participate in the National Day of Silence. Some community members were pushing for the school to ban student participation in the day. Urbandale’s administration, after hearing from GSA members, wouldn’t allow the Day of Silence to be banned.

“Ultimately,” as one student explained, “the most important thing our GSA can do is to provide a safe learning environment for LGBT and Straight Allied Students to go. This year I had two close friends come-out to me and their parents. One student’s parents were very supportive; the other sent him to a therapist. I encouraged him to join the GSA. We all shared our coming-out stories. After the meeting, my friend told me that it really helped to know he wasn’t alone.”

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