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LGBTQ Pride Month: Where We Are and What Educators Can Do Right Now
Speaking From Personal Experience
I remember very well the days when I, too, was closeted in the classroom. It wasn’t until after starting the GSA at McKinley, and developing a positive schoolwide culture of radical acceptance and support, that I finally felt supported and safe to come out: first to the GSA, and then to my general-education classroom. Bringing my queer identity and whole self to the classroom has enabled me to be a better educator and break down barriers that exist all too often in classrooms throughout our country.
Now, I’m able to use best practices for LGBT youth in my classroom in positive, affirming ways: implementing LGBTQ voices in my curriculum, revising my classroom rules to include language of acceptance, and displaying supportive flyers and posters are all steps that I take to ensure my students feel safe. I also recently synthesized legal documents from the District of Columbia Public Schools and the Dear Colleague Letter and hosted a professional development workshop for teachers at my school. The feedback I received after the workshop was so supportive; all the attendees wanted more time to engage in this type of professional development, and have asked me to host more opportunities like this for our school community.
My students continue to thrive, outperforming district-set bars for growth. I believe that this exponential learning is the result of a culture of empowerment and support: empowered teachers encourage and empower students to learn. This is why we need federal mandates that protect LGBTQ youth and educators, and real consequences for administrators and school officials who ignore the law.
What Can You Do?
If you’re an educator looking to provide strategies and support systems in the classroom, you can start by visiting the Teach For America LGBTQ Initiative, GLSEN, and GSA Network. If you witness discrimination of transgender youth at your school or in your community, report it to the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights or call 800-421-3481. You can also email the Office of Civil Rights at OCR@ed.gov.
By working together, we can ensure that all students receive equal protections under the law, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender identity, or sexual orientation.