Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Girl's Best Friend Foundation (GBF) closed November 2007. 
GBF’s records are archived with Special Collections of the University
of Illinois, Chicago.  In fall 2008, they will be made public:

Grantee Profile: Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation

The Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation (CESO) is a 43-member statewide coalition working to ensure the well-being and safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in Illinois schools through education, public policy, research, and student involvement. Since its creation in 1998, CESO has trained more than 6,900 school personnel. Its staff is a group of committed social justice activists who firmly believe that the fight against heterosexism and homophobia is inextricably linked to the fight(s) against racism, classism, sexism, ableism, etc. 

Outside the Chicago area, CESO is forming a network of youth activists from all corners of Illinois who are spearheading anti-heterosexism work in their own schools and communities in partnership with allied youth and adults. For the first time, Gay-Straight Alliances are being formed in schools in towns like Pawnee, IL through the vision and courage of LGBT youth and their friends and families. CESO envisions a society where all youth are welcomed and respected in their schools and communities. 

The organization's policy advocacy work seeks change in venues large and small to ensure that schools, organizations, and government articulate their commitment to nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. CESO also seeks to put that articulated value into practice by establishing local and statewide initiatives that "put the rubber to the road" in terms of assessing, preventing and intervening in anti-LGBT violence and harassment. The group envisions a society where those with public trust do their best to address inequities holistically and proactively, thereby eliminating inequities through their efforts.

As part of its training work, CESO asks people to think and talk about issues they may never have thought about before -- issues that are often sensitive and controversial. Sexual orientation and gender identity topics, as well as the LGBT community itself, have been used and abused by many groups who seek division, intolerance, and hate. Organizations and people come to CESO in order to commiserate, and take action. CESO's leaders envision a society in which institutions represent equality and human rights, instead of reinforcing narrowly defined values.

The group's leaders characterize themselves as "big dreamers who work hard, try best to mind our capacity, work inside and outside of the system, push ourselves to be critical of our places in the world, laugh a lot, believe in the power of collaboration, and try to bring people to the table. We are not perfect; we stumble, but we stick with our vision and do our best."

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