Rise Above Coffee is proud to be the LGBTQ+ Coffee that gives back, and each month, we feature a non-profit doing exceptional work in the LGBTQ+ community. This July, we’re shining a spotlight on GLSEN.

Leading the Fight for Safety and Inclusion

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a 501(c)3 non-profit that works to ensure that LGBTQ students can learn and grow in an environment free from bullying and harassment. GLSEN believes that when communities come together, we can transform our nation’s schools into the safe, affirming environments that all youth deserve. GLSEN is a national network of educators, students, and local GLSEN chapters working to make this right a reality. 

GLSEN’s Story

GLSEN has been championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990. The organization was founded by a group of teachers who believed that educators play key roles in creating affirming learning environments for LGBTQ youth. This principle still guides their work today. 

As the leading national organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, GLSEN envisions a world where every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. GLSEN works toward this vision in a variety of ways. 

GLSEN’s Work

Past and ongoing efforts of GLSEN include:

  • Conducting extensive, original research to inform GLSEN’s evidence-based solutions for K-12 education
  • Authoring developmentally appropriate resources for educators
  • Researching, advising on, and advocating for comprehensive policies that protect LGBTQ students, plus students of other marginalized identities
  • Provided extensive support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act
  • Fought discriminatory, LGBTQ youth-relevant legislation in 15 states

The Four Pillars of Support

The extensive research and experience of GLSEN suggest four major ways that schools can cultivate a safe and supportive environment for all students.

Develop Supportive Educators. 

Supportive educators save students’ lives. Having even one visibly supportive educator in school can help an LGBTQ student feel safer and more seen.

Develop Comprehensive Policies.

Passing and implementing comprehensive policies regarding key issues for LGBTQ students is crucial to ensuring they can learn and grow in a supportive environment. These may include harassment, bullying, non-discrimination, and other policies relevant to LGBTQ students as well as other marginalized student groups. 

Create More Inclusive Curriculum.

GLSEN believes that curriculum serves as a mirror when it reflects individuals and their experiences. But just as importantly, curriculum serves as a window when it provides the opportunity to understand the experiences and perspectives of people with different identities. An inclusive curriculum includes diverse windows and mirrors for every student. This creates a healthy self-awareness for LGBTQ students while raising the knowledge and awareness of everyone else. 

Support Student GSAs.

LGBTQ student-led clubs and Gender Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) lead the work to create safe and LGBTQ-inclusive schools, and student organizers nationwide offer a powerful base for creating true change. GSAs also create space for LGBTQ students to receive support, socialize, and find community together.


The four pillars of support are backed by extensive GLSEN resources. These range from inclusive curriculum guides for educators, to GSA startup guides for students and model policies to help guide advocacy efforts at state and local levels. 

Broad Picture Impact 

Today, GLSEN coordinates a network of 43 chapters in 30 states to ensure access to students in schools and districts across the country. 

Student involvement is also critical. GLSEN empowers students to affect change by supporting student-led efforts to bring about create positive change in their own schools with thousands of GSA’s nationwide.

After 25 years of leading the movement, GLSEN’s national network is 1.5 million strong, with students, families and educators working to create safer, more inclusive schools. More than 500,000 GLSEN resources are downloaded each year, providing strong evidence of the value that GLSEN provides for LGBTQ students, families, and educators. 

Coffee for a Cause

In support of GLSEN’s vital work, we’re introducing Love Wins as our July #coffeeforacause. When you buy Love Wins coffee during the month of July, a portion of the proceeds will be donated directly to GLSEN. 

To learn more about GLSEN, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.