Teachers Are Strong Allies for LGBT Youth
How a teacher can visibly support LGBT issues in a school, assess the general climate of the school, and help build a supportive school community, according to Sara Train (bio).
So what if you don't have a club and you're a teacher and you're aware that you want to do something but you don't quite have that group of students coming up to you asking to start a club. What can you do then?
Well, one, take a survey and see if there are environments that wouldn't allow students to come up to talk to you about it. Maybe there are things happening in that environment that you're not aware of as an adult. So ask, how safe do people feel? And how safe would they feel if their friend came up to them? Just figuring out what the general climate is with other peers is important, because that peer pressure is, as we know, a force. So, they need to figure out if the environment will even allow something like that.
And then as a teacher, be visible. Have events that celebrate LGBT identities. There are lots of resources online about programs that have already been created. There's Ally Week. There's National Coming Out Day which is October 11th. There's the Day of Silence that an organization named [Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network] GLSEN puts a lot of resources into and you can get packets for your schools. There is Harvey Milk Day if you want to take a historical approach to it. June tends to be recognized as Pride Month.
So as a teacher, if there are no clubs and you don't have a group of students coming up to you asking you for your support, to support them, make sure you're still sending a message that this is OK. And get your allies involved. Get other students involved in celebrating because even in the communities where we think, "oh nobody…we don't have any LGBT youth here," you have allies, and allies are a really strong voice.
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.