As the Education Manager at GLSEN, I wait all year for Teacher Appreciation Week. My job is centered around finding, supporting, and amplifying the work of rad educators in school across the country who are doing the hard work of creating affirming learning environments for their LGBTQ students. During Teacher Appreciation Week, the rest of the world chimes in too.
Even in LGBTQ advocacy, we often focus on LGBTQ students and their needs, with teachers, coaches, administrators, and other educators categorized together as “supportive adults.” Whatever state you’re in, teachers don’t have as many rights as students, and even in LGBTQ-visible environments, we can often get the message that our own identities are “too personal” or “too political” or somehow not relevant in this work.
That’s why I wanted to share some of GLSEN’s research, highlighting the work that LGBTQ-identified teachers are doing:
LGBTQ teachers are working hard to support their students! Supportive educators are one of the four main supports that can really make a difference for LGBTQ students. GLSEN research shows that LGBTQ teachers are more likely to engage in LGBTQ-Supportive practices such as “supporting students 1:1” and “displaying signs of support” like rainbow flags or safe space stickers.
LGBTQ teachers are making their curriculum inclusive of LGBTQ icons and history! GLSEN research found that LGBTQ-Identified teachers were more likely to teach LGBTQ topics than non-LGBTQ teachers (31.5% vs 14%).
LGBTQ teachers are advocating for their students! LGBTQ-identified teachers were more likely to advocate for inclusive policies (21.7% vs 7.8%) and to conduct or advocate for Professional Development at their schools (25.2% vs 8.9%).
Of course, you don’t need to be LGBTQ-to do this work, and we see and hear from dedicated allied educators who are making this work possible every day. However, at time when LGBTQ-educators are being suspended or reprimanded for sharing their identity with students, and where some are staying closeted for fear of repercussions, it’s critical that we highlight the persistant efforts of LGBTQ educators. We appreciate who you are and what you do!
Becca Mui is the Education Manager at GLSEN.