Children are multifaceted like a prism. They all deserve an education that reflects their unique identities.
Students of color, those from low-income areas, and those who identify as LGBTQ+ face oppression based on their multiple identities. Teach For America is committed to safety, fairness, and dignity for all students. That’s why we’re taking a stand.
Our National Prism Alliances aim to create a more intersectional movement to end educational inequity by encouraging more LGBTQ+ leaders to teach.
Taking a Stand on LGBTQ+ Students’ Rights
In 2015 Teach For America publicly endorsed both the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, because all students deserve an equal opportunity to learn and succeed in school, and students who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are no different.
LGBTQ+ students surveyed say they’ve been verbally harassed at school.
The dropout rate for LGBTQ+ youth is three times the national average.
LGBTQ+ students in schools with an inclusive curriculum said their peers were accepting of LGBTQ+ people, compared to 39.6% of those without an inclusive curriculum.
LGBTQ+ students with supportive staff at their school felt unsafe, compared to 78.7% of LGBTQ+ students with no supportive school staff.
Inclusiveness is at the Heart of Our Work
Since Teach For America launched the LGBTQ+ initiative in 2014, we've continued to evolve the name of the initiative to exemplify the diversity and inclusiveness we strive for in our work together.
The National Prism Alliances is symbolized by the prism: colorful, diverse, and inclusive. The prism represents multifaceted identities, crossing not only racial, gender, and sexual orientation identities, but keeping in mind how alumni, corps members, students, families, and our community partners help advance our work.
The name also centers the work happening through Prism coalitions in more than half of our regions and calls for a celebration of our community and its growth.
Ways to Connect
Join a Regional Prism Coalition
Our Prism coalition is a network of LGBTQ+ support groups in each of Teach For America's regions. The Prism coalition mobilizes TFA alumni leaders, staff members, teachers, and community members to support LGBTQ+ students and educators as we collectively work toward educational equity.
Nearly have of Teach For America's regions have formed a Prism coalition with locations across the country. Members of each coalition advocate for and engage people who identify as LGBTQ+ in ways that best match the unique needs and complexities of their local communities.
Many regions are in the process of forming a Prism coalition and may still offer opportunities to get involved with advocating for LGBTQ+ initiatives, even if their local coalition is still emerging. Contact email@example.com to learn more about opportunities to launch a Prism coalition in your region.
Attend an LGBTQ+ Brave Education Summit
In partnership with regional and national partner organizations, the LGBTQ+ Brave Education Summits offer corps members and alumni the opportunity to engage in learning and development and receive resources to support LGBTQ+ students and educators.
Summits take place in the fall and will be held virtually in 2021, open to all LGBTQ+ and allied corps members, alumni, staff, partners, and students. Summit attendees make recommendations for teacher preparation, student support, school culture, policy, and more.
View agenda and speakers from the 2020 virtual summit.
Join the Community!
Resources for Educators
- Comprehensive resource guide that includes interviews with researchers in the field, as well as information about scholarships available for LGBTQ+ students.
- Campus Pride College Fair Program: A national LGBTQ+ College Fair Program hosted once a year online and in 8-10 different cities across the U.S. The program is designed to address the concerns of LGBTQ and ally students related to academics, student life, and campus safety.
- Campus Pride Index: An assessment tool for campuses looking for ways to improve LGBTQ+ campus life.
- Camp Pride: A summer LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Academy to build leadership capacity among LGBTQ+ and ally undergraduate student leaders and create safer, more inclusive campus communities.
- Advisor Bootcamp: An LGBTQ+ Professional Academy for Advisors to expand knowledge, enhance skills, and collaborate with others who share passion for creating safer, more welcoming communities.
- Campus Pride LGBTQ+ Scholarship Database: A database of LGBTQ+ scholarships available across the United States.
- Campus Pride Map: A database of LGBTQ+ student groups, support services, and resources at colleges and universities across the United States.
Employment protections for LGBTQ+ teachers in our partner regions vary. View state laws and protections for more information about the legal landscape in our regions.
Please know that while there is no federal law that protects LGBTQ+ individuals from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, many of our regions are in states that have passed laws to include protections for these identities. Applicants who are concerned about employment protections should note their preferences in “special circumstances” when applying. This request will be honored to the best of our ability.
It is important to recognize that the presence of legal protections for LGBTQ+ people does not guarantee a culture of acceptance within a region and vice versa. Especially in regions where these protections do not exist, corps members have had positive experiences. LGBTQ+ teachers can make an impact in regions not traditionally associated with being LGBTQ+-friendly, especially given these are often the areas where LGBTQ+ students most need advocates and allies. If you are willing to advocate for an inclusive learning environment in any setting, we encourage you to mobilize and fight for the students and communities we serve.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, educational resources, and other essentials—including coats, snacks, and hygiene kits—to educators serving children in need. Learn more about First Book's partnership with TFA's National Prism Alliances.
Recommended Classroom Resources
- The First Book Marketplace - Provides First Book’s network of more than 450,000 registered educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need with thousands of free and affordable high-quality, brand-new books, educational resources, and basic needs items.
- The Stories for All Project™ - The largest worldwide collection of curated inclusive content. Educators supporting kids in need can access high quality, affordable books representing diverse characters, voices, and life circumstances.
- The First Book National Book Bank - Book Bank books and educational resources are generously donated by our publishing partners and are available to First Book Members for only the cost of shipping & handling—the books are free!
- Inclusive Libraries for LGBTQ Youth - First Book has partnered with TFA to help educators create safe, inclusive, community spaces that surround LGBTQ+ youth with brand new, high quality books that acknoledge their multiple identities, validate their experiences, and affirm their value. Find a list of Twelve Books to Add to Your Inclusive Library from TFA alum, Andrew Byrd.
- Educators and parents can download free toolkits, activities, and reading guides to support young readers. Available in English and Spanish.
GLSEN is an education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools. Explore popular resources for educators:
- Startup guides and activities to use in your school’s GSA.
- A toolkit for elementary educators, GLSEN’s Ready, Set, Respect! can be used to help students feel safe and develop respectful behaviors and attitudes.
- GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit to create a safe space for LGBTQ youth in secondary schools.
- Resource pages full with videos, activities and blogs to support Black, Native, Latinx, Asian & Pacific Islander youth.
- Resources to support trans students as well as women and femme students.
- Policy Wonk? Here are model policies for schools, districts and state policy makers.
- Data lovers, browse through the latest National School Climate Report.
The It Gets Better Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe through storytelling
Recommended Classroom Resources
It Gets Better EDU - Offers easy-to-access and easy-to-use information, resources, engagement opportunities to ensure that the stories crafted and collected by the It Gets Better Project reach LGBTQ+ youth where they are.
Moonlight Edu Guide - Educators can download a free guide for screening the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight in the classroom. The guide was created in partnership with Tim'm West, senior managing director of Teach For America's National Prism Alliances, David Johns, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, A24 Films, and It Gets Better EDU.
Teaching Tolerance has a broad set of resources, toolkits, and professional development that can support corps members and alumni interested in advancing safe classrooms. You're encouraged to search its portal for more.
Recommended Classroom Resources
- Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students - A guide to creating a safe and inclusive school environment where LGBTQ+ identities are affirmed in school culture and curriculum.
- Queer America - A podcast that takes listeners on a journey that spans from Harlem to the Frontier West, revealing stories of LGBTQ+ life we should have learned in school.
- Lesson Plans - Covering a breadth of social justice topics, including gender & sexual identity. Filter by grade, subject area, and topic.
- Student Text Library - A searchable library of short texts. Filter by grade, subject area, and topic, including gender & sexual identity.
- Bullied film kit - Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student's ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. Teachers can order the free kit which includes a DVD of the film, as well as a viewer's guide, lesson plan, and activities.
- Webinars - Free, on-demand webinars covering a variety of topics, including gender and sexual identity. Participants also get a certificate of completion.
- In-person professional development workshops - Join a daylong professional development workshop for current K-12 classroom teachers, administrators and counselors, and educator coaches. You can access in-person workshops with our expert trainers in two ways: through open enrollment in designated cities or by requesting training.
- Educator Grants - Educator Grants support K-12 educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their classrooms, schools, and districts. These grants, ranging from $500 to $10,000, support projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, educational resources, and other essentials—including coats, snacks, and hygiene kits—to educators serving children in need.
Senior Managing Director, National Prism Alliances
Teach For America
Tim'm is a seasoned educator, scholar, activist, and performance artist who plays an integral role in Teach For America's ever-expanding organizational effort to eliminate educational inequity through developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the LGBTQ+ community. The inaugural director of our National Prism Alliances, he has served in this role since its inception in 2014.
Director of Regional Engagement, National Prism Alliances
Teach For America
Kezia Gilyard, M. Ed. (they/them/theirs), is a 2012 Miami-Dade alum, and nonbinary educator, facilitator, and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth. Kezia supports the National Prism Alliances' efforts to support regions in establishing and sustaining Prism coalitions that are critical levers in support of our LGBTQ+ corps members, alumni, and the students and communities they serve.