#3: So, what’s the story?

The issue of LGBTQ+ rights, specifically within schools, in a complicated one. After my interviews, I was especially interested in looking into the role that teachers and administrators play in helping LGBTQ+ kids feel safe and included in schools. I find that much of the issue is that teachers don’t know what they can do to help, and also they don’t know how important it is that they help. I found this to be really evident while I was looking at GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate survey. They found that 56% of LGBTQ+ students have had something homophobic said to them by staff and that the incident rarely gets looked into. Last year something like that happened at my school, and the situation didn’t get dealt with until parents got involved. This data shows that that isn’t uncommon.

So, the issue comes from adults not knowing how to help, or not even knowing that they need to help. There is a lot of disagreement about how adults can help. My school generally has approached the issue by helping students access information about how to help, hoping that it will inspire students to take action. Another approach is having teachers take classes about how to support students who hold marginalized identities. There are organizations that work with teachers both at the state level, like Outright Vermont, and at the national level, like GLSEN. However, this isn’t always a priority.

I read a few articles about what different organizations suggest teachers do to support their LGBTQ+ students. Some common suggestions were including LGBTQ+ topics and history in the curriculum, not tolerating homophobic language, and listening to and learning about the struggles LGBTQ+ students face. One article I read was about what queer-identifying students wanted allies to know, and they said things like “speak with me, not for me,” and “don’t wait to be asked nicely”.

I am currently wondering what action other schools have taken, and how effective it has been. Additionally, what needs to be done to get teachers and administrators to realize that this is an issue that should be a priority?

“New GLSEN National School Climate Survey.” GLSEN, www.glsen.org/article/lgbtq-secondary-students-still-face-hostility-school-considerable-improvements-show-progress. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.

Raffaelli, Lina. “Supporting LGBT Students in Your School.” Edutopia, 14 Aug. 2014, www.edutopia.org/discussion/supporting-lgbt-students-your-school. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.

“These 9 LGBTQ Students Share What They Need from Their Allies.” GLSEN, 26 Sept. 2017, shop.glsen.org/blogs/glsen-blogs/these-9-lgbtq-students-share-what-they-need-from-their-allies. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.

Featured image by Matt Popovich

Avery Murray-Gurney

One Response to “#3: So, what’s the story?

  • Hi Avery,

    Well done on using both anecdotal evidence (personal interviews, your own school experience) and research data (New GLSEN National School Climate Survey). You will need both for your project. You are wrestling with a tough but interesting topic. Pursuing your questions (e.g. how other schools/teachers/administrations deal with the topic) will give you a better understanding and help you identify patterns of action.

    Bill

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