Really Big Things Start Small

Below is an ACLU email from 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein, who has been fighting anti-gay bullying at her middle school.

You know the worst part of getting bullied? It's when your school says it's OK, making you feel worthless and alone.

After getting bullied, I had to fight for over a year to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at school to help me and my friends. With the support of tens of thousands of ACLU supporters like you, we stopped the school board from banning all clubs, and I hope to be able to form the club before the school year ends.

But I've been thinking about all the other kids like me who don't have a big petition - kids who face horrible name-calling and violence just for being gay at schools that do nothing about it.

We have laws that say you can't discriminate against students because of their race, religion or sex, but not their sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, we can start to change that.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act, just introduced in the House of Representatives, would say that it's not okay for schools to discriminate against students just because they are LGBT. I can't tell you how much that would mean to so many kids like me who are feeling alone and unprotected.

So, I'm sharing my story with journalists and the sponsors of the bill on a press briefing with the hope that it will inspire members of Congress to support the bill. But I can't do this alone. Will you join me in speaking out?

Yes, I will sign the petition urging members of Congress to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

I know it's a really big thing to pass a law. But I also know that lots of really big things start small. When I tried for over a year to get a Gay-Straight Alliance at my school, a lot of people told me that I should give up.

But my mom and I reached out to the ACLU, over 50,000 of you signed a petition, hundreds of people packed a school board meeting and we even got a plane banner flying overhead. And it made a difference.

The Student Non-Discrimination Act would give students like me and our parents a legal option when schools ignore serious bullying, and it would prevent schools from discriminating against us, too (like not letting us bring our dates to prom).

So I won't give up this time either--not until every student can go to school without fear that they will be taunted, harassed and made to feel worthless, while adults stand by and do nothing.

Please sign the petition to call on members of Congress to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act to help protect LGBT kids from discrimination and harassment.

Thank you,
Bayli Silberstein


  1. Although it asks for a zipcode I found no problem signing the petition. It's a worthy cause.

  2. Today we start to change that! Good for you signed it also.

  3. Thanks to anybody who signs this. Bayli fights a good cause at such a tender age.

  4. Good on ye Bayli, big things do indeed start small - perhaps that's something we all can learn from. Good to see the Quill reaching out to cover such a story, I signed the petition also. My old Yonkers zipcode comes in handy at times like this!

  5. A UK postcode works in the zipcode box as well.