Thank you for standing with me

Below is the bulk of an email from Bayli Silberstein, a 14-year-old student in Florida. Bayli has been trying to form a student group called a Gay-Straight Alliance to combat the homophobic name-calling and bullying she and her friends face at school. She reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union for help. The email was sent to me through the ACLU and included an appeal for ACLU members to  sign a petition. It is worthwhile sharing. Without the work of the ACLU over the decades in the US, many current freedoms would not be available to American citizens.

It's been a tough year at school. My friends and I have been the targets of intense name-calling and harassment - just because of who we are and who we like. The bullying and discrimination was getting out of hand, so we decided to form a student group called a Gay-Straight Alliance.

But the school has refused to let us form the group.

Now, the School Board wants to ban ALL extracurricular clubs, just to stop us from forming a Gay-Straight Alliance.

I'm really shocked and disappointed that the School Board would do this, so I'm speaking out. The Board will be discussing the proposal on Monday and supporters will be packing the room to let them know we won't stand to be silenced by yet another, bigger bully.

Tell the Lake County School Board to drop the ban on student groups and allow us to form a Gay-Straight Alliance.

We need a place where we can talk about the harassment my friends and classmates experience at my school. All across the country, students like me are working hard to reduce homophobic remarks in the hallways that divide and hurt us, and fighting to create a greater sense of safety in schools. I'm proud to be a part of it.

But the School Board is going out of its way to silence the conversation about harassment. They are even willing to punish every student in the Lake County district (and limit our freedom of speech in the process) by banning all extracurricular clubs.

Thank you for standing with me,

Bayli Silberstein


  1. Pleased to have carried this for you Bayli

  2. Tell the board that you are setting up a christian prayer group bet theres no probs ,good luck Bayli.

  3. Bayli- No amount of bullying and harassment should be tolerated particularly because of something you can't purposely change like your sexual orientation and particularly at school age when people's personalities are molded and built. For a school board to prevent the group on the face of it looks like discrimination but speak with them and maybe a viable alternative will be found as the position is to create the group and the principle is to stop the bullying. You should always negotiate on principles rather than positions.

    I am not saying the group wouldn't help but maybe the school thinks it will create a 'them and us' scenario. If the school facilitates ways to stop the bullying your highlighting of the issues will be a success and students will be able to study and progress through their school years unhindered.

  4. As I recall from studies near 15 years ago,
    'Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate' Tinker v. Des Moines, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)
    The issue is freedom of speech and Bayli has the right to promote her message and oppose discrimination as does someone opposed to gay students in the school, the action of the school strikes me as using the sledgehammer to crack the nut and now all students loose out, rather than facing the reality of the 21st Century, Adh mór leis sinn Bayli.

  5. What an exceptional young woman.

    Sending you a wee bit of solidarity from Belfast Bayli.. Keep at them!

  6. BB,

    I felt that way too. At 14 she is exceptional.

  7. It does your heart good when young people like this are motivated and brave enough to organise.

    I'd say we haven't heard the last of this wee woman.

  8. Bayli, keep up the good work love, don't think of yourself as a second class citizen , you are not, you will prevail.

  9. email from Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Action

    Dear Anthony,

    Bayli Silberstein may be the bravest 14-year-old in the country. Her quest to form a Gay-Straight Alliance club in response to anti-gay bullying at her school inspired 38,000 people to sign her petition, 130,000 more to watch her story on YouTube, and a hundred supporters to pack the last local school board meeting.

    Under that pressure, the school board delayed the vote on the outrageous proposal to stop Bayli and her friends by banning all extracurricular clubs in the district. The board is hoping all the attention will go away so they've got to know we're still watching.

    If we can get to 50,000 petition signatures by Monday night's school board meeting, we'll fly a plane banner above the building that reads "Stand with Bayli, Not Bullies."

    (Imagine the board seeing that message high in the sky as they walk inside!)

  10. Go Bayli! I was wondering how she got on.

    Way to put the school board in their place!

  11. Another reason why young people like Bayli need all the support they can muster