This Pride month, it is more important than ever to ensure that we are being supportive and inclusive of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Although there has been much progress made in elementary schools and high schools across the country, addressing heterosexism and cissexism, there is still much work that needs to be done.
62% of 2SLGBTQ students report feeling unsafe at school (compared to 11% of cis-hetero students). 79% of trans students that were victims of harassment reported that teachers were ineffective in addressing it.
The increase in the number of GSAs, QSAs, Rainbow Clubs, and other equity-oriented student groups has made a direct impact on the ability of students and schools to address homophobic and transphobic comments, insults and bullying, but this alone is not enough.
At Harmony Movement, we continue to receive many requests for support from schools who are struggling to deal with these issues. We believe that there are a number of strategies that are needed to create more inclusive school spaces, including restorative justice practices, social and emotional learning, and community building.
It is important that inclusion efforts center the voices and experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ youth and focus on what they need. Classrooms are vital environments for inclusion.
But how can educators promote 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion?
Diversifying your Curriculum
There can be a lot of space within curriculum to incorporate content and themes to make your students, and their families feel reflected and represented. The following is a list of ways that you can introduce 2SLGBTQ+ topics and themes into various curriculums:
- Highlight 2SLGBTQ+ current and historical figures including politicians, scientists, and leaders with other intersectional identities (i.e. Queer folks with disabilities or Queer people of colour)
- Use books, short stories, or other types of literature that feature 2SLGBTQ+ characters and narratives in a positive and empowering way and read books written by 2SLGBTQ+ authors
- Ensure that activities are inclusive of diverse family structures (for example, some Mother’s and Father’s Day activities can be exclusive to students who do not have a nuclear family structure)
- Introduce diversity into scenarios for different word problems in science or math instruction
- Consider how you are including all genders and sexualities in your sex ed curriculum
- Check out our free lesson plans on Gender and 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion here
Diversifying your Classroom Space
The physical classroom space can be designed to make 2SLGBTQ+ students and their families feel like they belong. By decorating and including key resources, you can also clearly indicate that your classroom is a welcome space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community and create an expectation of respect and inclusion.
The following is a list of ways that you can transform your classroom space to be more inclusive:
- Include posters with 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion-affirming messages.
- Clearly display pride flags in your classroom as part of your classroom decorations (the progress pride flag in particular would be a great one to display!).
- Display pictures of your students and their families in the classroom so everyone is reflected in the space.
- Share organizations or other resources that support 2SLGBTQ+ students’ rights and mental health.
- Consider creating a “suggestion box” where students can submit requests for different resources (books, art supplies, etc.) that they feel the classroom space is missing and clearly indicate that it can also be used for students to make requests for other activities or events the students would like to see at school (i.e. school Pride parade or a culture show).
Remember to also challenge your own conscious or unconscious personal biases (take the Harvard Implicit Bias test on gender and sexuality – you may be surprised by the results!). Increase your exposure to 2SLGBT+ books, movies, tv shows and content. Reflect on how your language could be more inclusive. Remember allyship is a continuous process of learning, practice and reflection – see EGALE’s tips on practising 2SLGBTQI+ allyship here.