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May 31, 2018
Students thrive when they see positive reflections of themselves in their curriculum. For Asian LGBTQ students, this means learning about and honoring history, people, and events related to their intersectional identity as both Asian/Pacific Islander and LGBTQ.
Throughout Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, GLSEN’s National Student Council members Sarah Bunn and Marcus Breed used GLSEN's Instagram to share the queer API icons who’ve made an impact on their lives. See their posts below and add your own icon to the conversation with #APIqueericons on Twitter or Instagram. Don't forget to tag GLSEN!
Although May is officially API heritage Month, Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ identities should be part of an inclusive school curriculum all year round. Visit glsen.org/aapi for more info and resources about supporting Asian LGBTQ students.
Margaret Cho is a #bi comedian, actress, and author who centers her activism around #LGBTQ rights and Asian Americans. Cho’s material cover topics such as her past with substance abuse and eating disorders, her bisexuality, and Asian American stereotypes. In 2004, Cho created Love is Love is Love, a website that promoted the legalization of gay marriage in the United States. After same-sex marriage became legal in California in 2008, Cho was deputized by the City of San Francisco to perform marriages. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share you own and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
Manvendra Singh Gohil is the first openly #gay Indian prince. He runs a charity for HIV/AIDS prevention called The Lakshya Trust, which provides counseling services, clinics for treating STIs, libraries, and condom-use promotion for MSMs (men who have sex with men). Mavendra is on the Interim Governing Board of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health. In 2018, Mavendra opened his 15-acre palace to house vulnerable #LGBT people. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
Kim Coco Iwamoto has been recoginized as an activist, editorialist, policymaker, advocate, and philanthropist. She was born on the island of Kauai, and identifies as trans and Japanese. She currently holds the title of commissioner of Hawaiian Civil Rights. She was also recognized as a Champion of Change by Barack Obama. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
B.D Wong is a well known actor, staring in numerous awarded projects such as M. Butterfly, Shanghai Moon, and Mr. Robot. He is Chinese and identifies as gay. He continues to work with organizations that support #LGBTQ youth and the arts. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
Cecilia Chung is a #trans Chinese woman nationally recognized as an advocate for human rights, social justice, health equity, and #LGBTQ equality. Cecilia has been working tirelessly on the local, national and international levels to improve access to treatment for transgender people and people living with HIV, and to erase stigma and discrimination through education, policy, advocacy, and visibility. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
Vikram Seth is an Indian novelist and poet. He has written several novels and poetry books including "A Suitable Boy" that have recieved numerous awards. He identifies as #bisexual and has spoken on behalf of the community, including writing a poem called "Through Love's Great Power" in reaction to the criminalization of gay sex. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
Hayley Kiyoko is a singer, songwriter, actress, dancer and director. She identifies as a multiracial white and Japanese #lesbian. She works towards inspiring confidence in young people that struggle with being #queer and normalizing lesbian relationships in a society that she sees as being very heteronormative. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at glsen.org/aapi
@chellaman identifies as being a Queer transgender, deaf Chinese, and Jewish artist who works towards advocating for community and self love. He displays his artwork on his instagram page, including documenting his transition. He has also written articles opening up about mental health, body positivity, and his disability. This #AsianPacificHeritage Month, the GLSEN National Student Council is sharing their #APIqueericons! Share your icon and see how you can support #LGBTQ #API students at the link in bio!
For more icons, resources, and a timeline of AAPI queer historical events, visit glsen.org/aapi!
May 30, 2018
Dear Stacy Bailey,
I want to thank you and all the openly queer teachers across the country.
These last few weeks I have been hearing your story: you shared your authentic self and were suspended just because you showed your class a picture of your future wife. I applaud you for filing a federal lawsuit against the school district and not bowing to pressure and resigning. You have every right to stay in your job.
I want to thank you for being a role model and showing LGBTQ youth like me that our presence matters. I am nearly at the end of my high school journey, and as I look back at my years in school, I am reminded of my few openly LGBTQ teachers. They showed me what it means to be out, proud, and passionate. When my middle school teacher, Mrs. Kramer, showed us a picture of her wife and her adorable dog it made me daydream of what my life would look like with a husband and my own kids.
I came out at the beginning of freshman year. If it wasn’t for openly queer teachers who showed me that being a part of the LGBTQ community was perfectly normal, I would have never had the courage or taken the risk to reveal my authentic self.
Stacy, your story is one of the many that we hear year after year about teachers who are authentically being themselves. Thank you for being an openly queer teacher who has no agenda but to teach students the power of kindness and respect.
The fact that there are so many places across the country where openly LGBTQ teachers cannot show their students a picture of their family is frustrating. Every teacher has the right to be their true selves; students and the community should rally behind teachers who are facing discrimination.
I encourage you, Mrs. Bailey, and all other queer teachers to stand tall and keep fighting. By fighting, you are showing me, and millions of other students and teachers across the country, that the right to be ourselves is undeniable. As I progress through college, I will work to make sure each and every person feels like they matter. I envision a day where difference, whether it be sexual orientation or gender, is accepted. Thank you, openly queer teachers, for being everyday heroes. I wouldn't be the proud and out person I am without your strength and determination to be yourself.
Danny Charney is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.
May 16, 2018
In the current divisive and challenging climate in the United States, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) people struggle to find their safe spaces, especially in schools. Historically and presently, LGBTQ educators specifically have faced challenges being their authentic selves. My colleagues and I have been studying the experiences of LGBTQ educators for over a decade. Our findings from the first two national surveys (conducted in 2007 and 2011, reported in A Safer Place? LGBTQ Educators, School Climate and Implications for Administrators) have shown that too many LGBTQ teachers feel unsafe in their workplace climates. In fact, one third of these educators felt that their jobs were at risk if they were out to administrators and over half felt their jobs were at risk if they were out to students. Approximately one quarter also reported being harassed at the schools where they work.
Slowly, the support for LGBTQ educators has been increasing since our first two surveys were conducted; however, even today, there are still times when LGBTQ educators do not feel very safe. A colleague of mine and I are currently examining responses from the third and most recent installment of our LGBTQ educators’ survey, conducted in 2017. As we found in our past surveys, we see that LGBTQ educators’ experiences differ depending on where, what, and who they teach. For example, elementary teachers are more worried about being “out” to their students than high school teachers. Elementary teachers also report less LGBTQ inclusion in their schools’ curriculum and fewer LGBTQ-related resources in their schools’ libraries than their high school counterparts. Similar to findings from the general population of teachers reported by GLSEN, we found regional differences in LGBTQ educators’ reports of their school’s policies. LGBTQ educators in the Northwest were more likely than those in the Midwest to have school policies addressing the use of homophobic and transphobic language. Regional differences extended to LGBTQ teachers’ experiences of harassment – with those in the Midwest reporting more harassment than those in the Northeast.
And it’s not only LGBTQ educators who suffer when their school is not LGBTQ-inclusive. We know that inclusive schools are critical for LGBTQ youths’ educational success and personal well-being. Yet, despite the fact that LGBTQ students who are exposed to positive representations of LGBTQ people and history report more positive school experiences and better educational outcomes, GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey found that less than one-fifth of LGBTQ students attend schools with an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.
In order to provide the best education and support to students, including teaching an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, teachers need to be the best teachers they can be, and they can only do that when they feel safe to be exactly who they are. Clearly, our findings indicate that this is not always the case. So, what can be done? One avenue for change is within the school leadership. School administrators can have a major impact on the overall school climate and workplace climate. In a 2015 Ed Week interview, Kevin Jennings, GLSEN founder and former U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education, stated the following about educational leaders, “I think if there was one thing that I would like to see happen is it's greater leadership on the part of superintendents and principals.” With greater leadership will come more consistent support and guidance for LGBTQ educators, which will translate to better outcomes of all measures for LGBTQ students. By taking steps to ensure the right policies, resources, and practices are in place, school administrators promote a more positive and inclusive environment for LGBTQ educators and LGBTQ students alike.
In their work with policies, curricula, and hiring, school principals can have a huge impact on LGBTQ student experience by promoting a safe, welcoming, and fair environment for LGBTQ educators in their schools, enabling these LGBTQ educators to be the critical and positive representations LGBTQ students need, in addition to being fantastic educators too!
Dr. Tiffany Wright, Associate Professor
Co-Director, Joint EdD Program in Educational Leadership
Program Coordinator, Leadership for Teaching and Learning
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
May 15, 2018
At the GLSEN Respect Awards, we recognize exemplary role models—students, educators, individuals and corporations—that have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth. At the event in New York later this month, one of the role models we're recognizing is Stephanie Byers, an Instrumental Music Educator from Wichita High School North as Educator of the Year!
Some of Stephanie's accomplishments include advocating for the needs of transgender students at the State Capitol, participating on panels for the “National Day of Coming Out,” chaperoning the GLSEN Greater Wichita’s “Day of Advocacy,” and training future physicians around transgender health care. We asked this exceptional educator about what motivates her to teach and what suggestions she has for for creating an inclusive curriculum, leading a new GSA and using GLSEN resources.
1. Why did you decide to become an educator?
Wow! Making me put on the “way-back” thinking cap. My first teaching job began in January of 1987 so I’ve been at this for awhile. My decision to become an educator happened when I was 12. In 1975 I started in my first band class - sixth grade band with Mr. Chuck Pappan. I grew up in a suburban, college community, but like most communities there were areas of town where people who were blue collar tended to live. I grew up in one of those neighborhoods. My neighborhood middle school was full of students from working class parents. Mr. Pappan took this ragtag bunch of kids who decided to play in band and began to instill in us the ideas of each person having value, that the quality of your character was more important than whether your clothes were new or hand-me-downs. That everyone deserved to be treated with dignity. He did all of this with the most gentle heart, incredible spirit, and so much humor that our sides would hurt nearly every day after class. He made a huge impression and difference in all of our lives. It was during that time that I decided I wanted to be a band director - a music educator if you will. So from 12 years old I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach people to feel good to be with each other, to work for a common goal, to know that even if they’re the only player of their instrument, they are not alone. That it’s okay to laugh at your own mistakes - just work a little harder to not make them next time. And that music feeds our souls and surrounds us in all of our lives.
2. What do you love most about being an educator?
What I love most about being an educator is seeing the difference that takes place in people’s lives. As I write this, Teacher Appreciation Week is happening. My Facebook page has been filled with former students writing to tell me that their fondest memories in high school came from my classes. Some met their future spouse in my class, some fell so in love with music that they became professional musicians and/or professional music educators themselves. One wrote to tell me that I taught them to see music in another light - as a tool of emotion and that music could be far more than ink on a page and sound in the air if you let it tell its story. Some told me of how they clung to music as their homelife unravelled through divorce and homelessness. They spoke of how everyone was treated equally in my class. Some said my classroom was the only place they felt safe to be themselves while in High School. How can you not love the difference in someone’s life that they attribute to you and your class?
3. How do you incorporate lessons of respect in your curriculum?
You’d think that a music teacher would focus on playing the right notes with the right fingerings, the correct rhythms, proper tone and volume. In fact that is a part of my class. But what I see as the main function of music is communication. Communication is a fundamental of life. Respect is integral to good communication. Listening to what others say. Realizing that everyone is giving their best for today and that’s what counts. Our job is to lift each other up and not put each other down.
The building I teach in just held it’s 89th graduation Tuesday evening. In one of our halls there are the senior pictures of nearly every person who graduated from Wichita High School North during those 89 years. As you look through those photographs you begin to notice that at times when our Nation was so separated by race and ethnicity, there are photos of people of color, side by side with white students. Going far back you see photos of students of all socio-economic levels hanging side by side - their commonality? - Wichita High School North. North has always been a building of inclusivity. Acceptance is rooted in its very foundations. It matters less to the teachers of North High where your family is from, what language is spoken at home, how much money your family has, than what you want to do with your life and how can we help you find your best. The quality of your character is valued above all else. Many years ago there was the “Choose Another Word” campaign, an attempt to change the culture of derogatory terms based on sexual preference, ethnicity, learning disabilities, etc… Even though that campaign ended some time ago, our staff and students still practice it.
In my classroom I take it to the next level. Often I point out that there are aspects of our existence that were made by our choice, but most things that make us us came about without our control - our ethnicities, our parentage, our gender identity, our sexual preferences, etc. These are things that contribute to who we are but they don’t completely identify us. Often it’s these very differences that make us interesting people! Since high school music can be competitive we also focus on learning to be respectful of others. We must demonstrate the respect we want others to show us. The idea of “I’ll respect you if you respect me!” is slightly askew. It really should be: “I’ve shown you respect, will you please give me the courtesy of doing the same.” I also try to teach that “those who can” have an obligation to reach out to those who can’t and try to lift them up to reach their best.
4. What is the number one lesson you hope students take away from your classes?
That music is life. In order for things to go well we must all work in harmony. Each of us have our own purpose, but our purpose don’t exist in isolation. Looking out for each other is more important than building divisions between us. Strive to understand each other. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, just try to see life from outside your own perspective.
5. As state legislatures across the country are trying to limit the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students, how do you make sure your classes are inclusive of these students?
I ask students what their preferred name is to start with. Whatever name is in the records is just a starting point, what I want to know is: what do you go by? I use the pronouns that the student prefers. If I don’t know the pronoun, then I just use their name.
Bands and Orchestras wear “uniforms”. For concerts we wear dress clothes, black on bottom and either white or black on top. Gender doesn’t matter in what you choose to wear, just remember that if you choose to wear a black skirt or a black dress to make sure it is long enough when you sit down.
I’ve begun working with my district to change some of the names of our vocal music ensembles - so instead of “Women’s Choir” - we could use “Treble Choir” etc.
6. What advice do you have for educators trying to build their schools’ GSAs?
Have a ready explanation of what “GSA” means for the school. Advertise. Make it have more substance than just a social group. Work to get students who are “allies” involved. Work with your local GLSEN chapter. You may not know what all the area GLSEN is doing, but your students will - especially via social media.
7. What tips do you have for educators trying to create an inclusive curriculum?
Let what unites us be a bigger thing than what divides us. Teach that being gay, lesbian, bi, straight or transgender aren’t “choices” people make - it’s just who we are. Give space for kids to find themselves.
8. What GLSEN resources have you used, and how have you used them?
Our school is covered in GLSEN safe and inclusive stickers. Teachers and other staff choose to put them up and it’s amazing at how frequently you see one in a classroom window. Being in a large, urban, district, people often come to me to tell me about something happening in another building. I will then call our GLSEN chair person and ask her if she knows about it and who she can talk with to help? I also take GLSEN surveys and share them with our faculty during staff inservices. I would like to find ways to get our GSA more involved with the Greater Wichita GLSEN.
May 14, 2018
Each year at the GLSEN Respect Awards we recognize an outstanding GSA or similar LGBTQ student club that is dedicated to creating a safe, diverse, and inclusive school community for all. At the event later this month we are recognizing E.O. Green Junior High School GSA, PRISM as GSA of the Year.
By learning from the lessons of the school's past and opening lines of communication with current students, this student club has worked to create a welcoming place where students of all genders and sexualities can feel safe and learn.
We spoke with the President of the GSA of the year, Taylor Perez, about maintaining a GSA, communication, campus outreach, creating safe spaces, and using GLSEN resources. Read below to see what advice he has for jumpstarting your school's GSA!
1. Why did you want to become GSA president?
I wanted to become President of PRISM to support my local queer community and begin pushing toward a world of equality. It has been an honor to be President and meet so many diverse people. I have had such a wonderful experience helping students throughout their self-discovery and encouraging them to help others.
2. How did you get your GSA started and recruit members? How do you keep members interested in being a part of the club?
PRISM was started when a trans student came out to our principal Mrs. Haines and asked why we didn’t have a GSA at our school. She and the student worked together using GLSEN resources online and formed our GSA a month later. A small group of LGBTQ+ students worked hard that year to support each other and teach others in our community about who we are. This year our club grew to 30-40 students, from our original 12-13 members. We have continued to normalize queer people in our school, community and society through our activities and participation. Many of our events came from the GLSEN website.
We are there for any student who comes to the meetings and we make sure that they are surrounded by people who care about them. The meetings have never and will never be mandatory, but our door will always be open to those who are willing to lend an ear. It is my firm belief that communication and willingness to provide a helping hand are the best ways to help people in need.
3. What is a typical meeting like for your club?
We work hard and we play hard! Our members and advisers are energetic and enthusiastic, and we enjoy being together to better our school community. A typical meeting opens with making sure members are accounted for and cared for. Next we share any news, whether it be someone sharing that they have come out or discussing and planning an upcoming event. Then we discuss future plans for school events such as the Day of Silence, Red for Ed (a day of activism to support public schools, sponsored by the California Teachers Association), or our respectful anniversary of the school tragedy, Rainbow Hornets Day. Trinkets such as ribbons are made for the events and posters are placed around the school.
4. What do you love most about being the president of your GSA?
The human experience is such an important thing and I have been so powerfully touched by each of our members. Having conversations and hearing peoples' stories has been so inspiring. I have helped people open up to who they are, love who they are, and be willing to lend an ear to others as I have to them. Everyone has a story and everyone’s story should be heard. If you take anything from this, let it be that everyone wants to be heard.
5. As the president of your GSA how do you make sure that you create a safer space where others voices and ideas are heard?
I connect with every single one of my members especially when they are having an issue. I discourage people from being rude and condescending asking them to treat everyone with dignity and respect, which is the school motto of E.O. Green. I have always encouraged new opinions and ideas. An open mind to different opinions and ideas than your own is such an important skill to have.
All of our members play a huge part in outreach, whether they are part of the LGBTQ+ community or allies. Our events reach out to every student and staff member on campus and we have seen a positive change to our school’s culture. We’re proud of the work we have done to bring E. O. Green Junior High School into an accepting and welcoming space.
6. What impact have you seen your club make on your school?
Since starting PRISM last year, we have seen such a major shift in the way students interact with each other. Seeing people loving who they love and being who they are warms my heart because I can proudly say we helped make that happen. People who would otherwise be alone at school now have lifelong friends they met through PRISM. I see people who have had their self-confidence majorly boosted thanks to the caring community in PRISM . Most importantly, I see smiles on faces that used to look as though they were on the verge of tears.
We have seen the word gay and other identifying terms being used as slurs decrease greatly, and bullying due to sexual orientation is rare now, thanks to our supportive Principal and Assistant Principals. Even our Superintendent has given her full support to our GSA. PRISM has made such a major impact on so many lives and it took every single one of us working together to do that.
7. What advice do you have for students trying to build their school’s GSAs?
Communicate calmly, even if it may seem the world is against you. I know when we first started, we felt intimidated. It was our willingness to remain calm in the face of hate and to sit down and to discuss how to make things better for everyone that made us successful. To continue, talk with authorities around you. Bring fully formulated ideas to them and show them how important it is that everyone deserves representation and a safe place to go. Have a solid backing of people to help when you fall. Be true to yourself and what you believe in and you will go far. And of course, the GLSEN site was so important in giving us the guidelines we needed to begin, so starting there is valuable.
8. What do you hope your school’s GSA can do in the future?
I hope that when I leave PRISM and move on to my high school GSA next year, the club will continue its striving for the equality of all people regardless of sexuality, sex, gender orientation, race, religion, or class. I hope that the good work of making our school, community and world a safe space for everyone continues. I have faith in my fellow members and have no doubt they will keep fighting for equality.
9. What GLSEN resources have you used, and how have you used them?
The information on forming the club was our starting point. The GLSEN Jump Start Guide was important in forming our GSA and knowing our rights. We have taken ideas for events, and printed out signs and stickers from the GLSEN site for all our events, such as the Day of Silence, which is a personal favorite. The Day of Silence significant because of the opportunity to teach people that not everyone has a voice and how hard it is to remain quiet, the patience one must have to not make a sound, and how all this is representative of those who cannot speak out of fear they will be harmed. We had a successful No Name-Calling Week as well. It is easy to do with the resources GLSEN provides.
The resources give us great information and topics to discuss and act on with PRISM. The article on Empowerment and Self-Identification has helped in the foundation of our GSA’s ideals. The concept of encouraging those around you to love themself is so incredibly important. I’ve personally used the article on Misgendering and Respect for Pronouns to help students support their transgender peers. It is important to know the proper pronouns for others and yourself. GLSEN’s education resources have been key to our success with all students. GLSEN has been such a major help in setting up PRISM and teaching others the importance of equality. Thank you all so much for the important work you do to support us!
May 09, 2018
In 2012, I came out to my parents that I identify as a bisexual woman. I was blessed to have caring, non-judgemental parents. However, I was not so lucky with geography. Living in Texas since birth, I grew up with anti-LGBTQ bias following my every step. This is especially true within the schools in my state.
Look no further than this Texas law, which states: “The materials in the education programs intended for persons younger than 18 years of age must: (1) emphasize sexual abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage as the expected standard in terms of public health and the most effective ways to prevent HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies; and (2) state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”
Laws like this one are often referred to as “no promo homo” laws because they prohibit the positive portrayal of homosexuality, particularly in health class. And these laws are currently found in 7 states: Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and my state, Texas. In these seven states, nearly 10,000,000 students are affected by this discriminatory legislation.
Though laws like this one do not explicitly address bisexuality, the notion that same-sex relations are unacceptable and even criminal, perpetuates the idea that bisexual students are “less than our heterosexual peers.” Unfortunately for me, I internalized this message; I’ve wanted to hide my bisexuality and show only the part of me attracted to men, in order to preserve my respectability as a “proper” young woman. I never want to be considered a criminal, especially not because of the people I love.
Not surprisingly, according to GLSEN’s latest research, schools in states with “no promo homo” laws were more likely to include negative representations of LGBTQ topics in school curriculum, and were less likely to include LGBTQ topics overall, compared to schools in states without these laws even in health classes. When students see negative representations of themselves in their lessons at school they suffer. In other words, these laws have a real, negative impact on students like me.
— GLSEN (@GLSEN) January 30, 2018
When your identity is already underrepresented in every outlet (such as media, athletics, and fashion), the last place you want your identity to be covered up is in your education. If you live in one of the seven states with these laws, I urge you to send a letter to your state representatives urging them to repeal the law. If you don’t, check out GLSEN’s guide on LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum – it shows how and why educators should include positive representations of LGBTQ topics at school.
Em Gentry is a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council.
May 04, 2018
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.
April 27, 2018
As an English teacher, I know first hand that language can be sticky. Grammatical correctness is important, but more important are the people the words are used to describe.
In a polarizing binary pronoun world, navigating gender-neutral pronouns can be daunting at first. Though most people use they/them/their in everyday conversation without a second thought, it can be a whole different issue when applying it to a single person. Even though the use of singular “they” has been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the APA style guide, it has sadly not yet made its way into English classrooms across the country.
I heard a story from a student that made me take a more conscious effort to have inclusive language. My student told me that when analyzing a poem, the teacher asked the students to discuss the voice of the poem in terms of gender. My student chose to use "they" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. The teacher urged the student to pick "one or the other," insisting that there were only two choices. My student didn't feel this was fair and knew that many people use “they/them” pronouns when “he/him” or “she/her” don’t fit. The student tried to reason with their teacher, and the argument ended with the teacher telling the class that "they" is only for plural use. My student left that English class feeling discouraged and isolated.
This story inspired me to take a look at my own class, my own teaching, and the influence that language has for my students. Do I force students to pick from the limited options of “boy” and “girl”? How can I bring “they/them/theirs” in a singular, gender-neutral form into my lessons and conversations with students? Is my curriculum silencing people’s identities when I ignore these seemingly little words?
As a teacher, I can use my curriculum and conversations to bring visibility to LGBTQ people. I am sure to talk to my students about their use of language, and how that language impacts others. Words can be a destructive force of terror or a haven of creative catharsis. Sometimes the erasure of words can mean the silencing of identity. When we, as educators, prioritize outdated grammatical rules above our students’ experiences, we’re allowing language to put a student in a box that limits their creative expression and can cut them off from having the language to describe themselves.
Today is GLSEN’s Day of Silence, when students and educators take a vow of silence to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school. I strive to help my students to break this silence, and to find the words that help them express who they are, no matter who that is.
Ashley Bidinger is a teacher of English Language Arts and a GSA sponsor.
April 26, 2018
For this year’s GLSEN Day of Silence on April 27th, the 2017-2018 National Student Council shared on social media how they are breaking the silence. With this year’s focus on highlighting marginalized voices within the LGBTQ+ community, some council members are either educating others on intersectionality and the importance of allyship, emphasizing the voices of those unable to speak up, or letting their true self shine proudly. We encourage you to use this day to continue engaging in dialogue in your schools and community centered around the bullying of LGBTQ students. Be sure to take a picture of yourself or your GSA breaking the silence with our sign and share on social media, tagging @GLSENofficial.
April 26, 2018
This Friday, thousands of students across the country will participate in GLSEN's Day of Silence, a daylong vow of silence symbolizing the to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ people at school. After taking a vow of silence throughout the day, students often break the silence with an event hosted by a student group, community organization, or local GLSEN Chapter. Check out the list below to see whether a local GLSEN Chapter is hosting an event near you.
GLSEN Greater Wichita
Night of Noise
West Heights United Methodist Church
Friday, April 27 at 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM CDT
Night of Noise
Third Street Stuff & Coffee
Friday, April 27 at 6 PM - 8 PM EDT
GLSEN Hudson Valley
2018 Breaking the Silence Teen Dance
Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center
Friday, April 27 at 7 PM - 10 PM EDT
New York Capital Region
Breaking The Silence Rally
Egg Performing Arts Center
Friday, April 27th 4:30-9PM
GLSEN Greater Kansas City
Break the Silence and After-Party
Friday, April 27 at 3:15 PM - 6:45 PM CDT
Mill Creek Park and KC Center for Inclusion