Metro Weekly

Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie pledges $1 million to help schools set up Gay-Straight Alliances

Research indicates that LGBTQ youth benefit from the presence of a GSA in their schools

Brendon Urie – Photo: Panic! at the Disco, via Facebook.

Brendon Urie, frontman for rock band Panic! at the Disco, has pledged $1 million to GLSEN to foster the creation of student-led Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in high schools across America.

Urie will make the donation through his Highest Hopes Foundation, which was launched earlier this week to support nonprofits that advocate for human rights for all people and communities who are subject to discrimination or abuse.

The foundation will administer the gift to GLSEN, who will then use its to provide resources, training, and support to students who wish to create Gay-Straight Alliances in their own schools.

“For years my fans have inspired me with their determination and creativity as they have created a safe and inclusive community,” Urie said in a statement. “I felt the time had come for me to join them boldly, to bring that energy and power to bear on the huge challenges facing our whole society.

“Launching the Highest Hopes Foundation with GLSEN as our first cause feels natural to the DNA of Panic! at the Disco,” he added. “I am beyond excited to see what we can do together. Some of the most inspiring leaders out there right now have come from GSAs. Working firsthand with GLSEN, student leaders everywhere, and all my fans, I want to make sure that every one of our future leaders out there has the support they need to form their own GSA and begin their work to make a better world.”

Research by GLSEN has found that LGBTQ youth attending schools with a GSA are less likely to hear anti-LGBTQ remarks, less likely to feel unsafe, less likely to be victimized, and are more likely to report staff intervention when bullying or harassment occurs. But only about half of all LGBTQ youth report having a GSA in their school.

Currently, GLSEN supports more than 6,500 registered GSA and tens of thousands of LGBTQ youth through training at local youth summits, free print and online resources, lesson plans, and programs designed to raise awareness, including its Day of Silence, No-Name Calling Week, and Ally Week campaigns.

“GSAs and their leaders are out there every day doing the work and leading the way,” Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, said in a statement. “We need their energy now more than ever. Over the past three decades, GLSEN has worked alongside them and seen the GSA movement grow to reach half of the middle and high schools in the United States. With Brendon’s partnership and this transformative gift, we will make sure that students have the support they need to reach every single school.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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