The Potential of Trauma-Informed Schools for LGBT Youth

Brian Navarro (bio) explains how to build an LGBT-inclusive school environment.


You know, I think really creating an environment of inclusivity, so really being able to have tolerance and respect. I think that when we talk about respect often times we don't really explain what that means. I think often times our children come from homes that, while certain behaviors are reprimanded or there's consequences to maladaptive behaviors, that we do a poor job at praising and reinforcing desired behaviors and really setting expectations of what's respect and responsibility, and what's appropriate behavior.

So I think on the minimum schools should really be able to reinforce and describe what is that expectation of pro-social behaviors. What does respect look like? What does responsibility look? They're all big words, but what does look like.

So on the basic, it is really just having that kind of explanation and setting the groundwork for what is expected for environments to be safe, for environments to be inclusive. How do we create an environment of inclusivity?

So I think part of that is really thinking about labels. We're in a hetero-normative culture. We don't even think about it — from the moment where we come into this world — that we're already socialized to act and think certain ways. And I think, for individuals really to challenge themselves and be mindful of the labels that we use when speaking to youth in particular because I think LGBT youth in particular are very sensitive to non-verbal cues.

We read the environment, they read the environment, and before you even open up your mouth, I think an individual could know that that person's safe. That person is going to respect me as being different or as open to that possibility.

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Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.

 

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