All children PreK—College deserve to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow. Many students—including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBTQ)—may be the victims of physical violence, intimidation, or damage to their personal property. A school curriculum that includes positive representations of LGBTQ people, history, and events can be a source of resilience for LGBTQ students. Schools and educators, therefore, should be proactive in creating a culture that respects all students and fosters understanding of gender identity within the school community.
The inclusion of LGBTQ people, history, and events in the curriculum educates all students about LGBTQ issues and may help reduce prejudice and intolerance. Working to cultivate greater respect and acceptance of LGBTQ people among the student body can result in a more positive school experience for LGBTQ students.
The Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA) supports any initiative that ensures the safety and civil rights of all students including students who are members of the LGBTQ community and who face bullying situations, discrimination, and/or issues regarding equal access to areas including, but not limited to, public restrooms.
Further, OCTELA members should be encouraged to
- establish and enforce anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies and ensure that these policies are enforced;
- incorporate LGBTQ issues into their classroom community to support vulnerable students during what can be very difficult years in their lives;
- provide intervention and support whenever possible for students targeted for harassment and intimidation;
- address the needs of LGBTQ students, as well as children of LGBTQ families, by taking a pro-active stance to develop a school community where individual differences are accepted and celebrated; and
- educate themselves and others on LGBTQ issues when professional development is not provided by their districts because it is difficult to effectively incorporate and discuss LGBTQ issues in the classroom without a working knowledge of these issues and the students who identify on the spectrum.
Note: For the most current research and evaluation on LGBTQ issues since 1999, visit http://www.glsen.org/research