Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School is in session

Well our 4 y/o daughter is back to school. At this time in her life she struggles with with wanting me to be the daddy. All of her friends are from homes with straight parents. All of her videos she watches are straight characters too! It is a blessing to have the two books we have that tell a story for young children that offer GLBT characters for parents. There needs to be greater support though for the community!

To all the teachers in the CNMI I would like to say it is a new year with new challenges and I would like to share information with you on how to make your classroom a GLBT friendly site. I found a web-site called Colage which addresses issues for children who may have GLBT parents. Well there are not too many of us GLBT parents here is Saipan, however I found the same principles to hold true when welcoming GLBT students into the classroom as well. Read on....

"1. Always intervene whenever you hear or see anti-gay language or actions. At the beginning of the year, set classroom rules that include making it clear that racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. comments are not welcome in your classroom. Send a clear message that homophobia will never be tolerated. In addition, try to link homophobia to other types of oppression-teach students that hate in all of its forms is wrong.

2. Do not make assumptions about any student's background. Create a classroom where each student is able to share freely about their identity and families.

3. Visually show your support. On your walls include a poster about diverse families (perhaps the COLAGE poster) or other images that show you are an ally to LGBTQ people and issues.

4. Challenge heterosexism in your assignments. Some examples: In language classes asking youth to describe their families, often youth with LGBTQ parents have been reprimanded for using the wrong gender pronouns. However, often the fact that they are using he and he to describe two dads is correct. If you assign family origin or family tree projects, allow youth from alternative families to make their own decisions about how they portray their families, whether it is two parents of the same gender, or multiple parents who co-parent them, etc.

5. Include Topics about Diversity in your curriculum. Study different kinds of families and famous LGBTQ people (and when someone you are studying anyway is a LGBTQ person, mention that), have speakers, and use videos and books to show students that diversity is something to be celebrated. Perhaps use events such as National Coming Out Day, Pride Day, or a Unity Week as reasons to incorporate LGBTQ issues positively into your classroom.

6. Never out a student with LGBTQ parents. The only person who should make the decision to share about their family is the student when they feel safe and ready to do so.

7. Do not make assumptions about youth with LGBTQ parents. Youth from alternative families report that people often assume certain traits will apply to all youth with LGBTQ parents. For example, do not expect that a student who has LGBTQ parents will also be gay. Research shows that there is no higher incidence of homosexuality among people raised by LGBTQ parents.

8. Make your classroom accessible. Do not rely on forms that ask for signatures from mother and father. Instead use the terms Parent/Guardian. On Back to School night, or during parent teacher conferences, expect and welcome LGBTQ parents.

9. Work with your administration to make sure your school is safe for students with LGBTQ families. Suggest that the faculty at your school does an LGBTQ sensitivity training, or an in-service about LGBTQ and diverse families. Discuss protocols for dealing with anti-gay or anti-gay family harassment on school-wide or department levels so that all teachers are equipped to address homophobia.

10. Educate yourself. Learn more about LGBTQ families and issues. Not only will this allow you to be informed when students raise questions or need resources, but it will help you be better equipped to address incidents of homophobia in your school and to include LGBTQ content in your curriculum. As a starting point, use the resources at the back of this guide for suggestions of books, movies, websites and more.

11. Be involved. If your school has a Gay Straight Alliance or other type of club, attend meetings when possible to show your support. You can also offer to be the faculty advisor for such a club if students are trying to start one in your school. If you are involved in your school's GSA, Rainbow Club, or other diversity club, ensure that LGBTQ family issues are included and that youth from LGBTQ families are welcomed as participants. " (Colage, 2003)

Island Dyke


Youth Leadership and Action Program of COLAGE (2003) Tips For Making Classrooms Safer. Retrieved on September 10, 2008, from http://www.colage.org/resources/safe_classrooms.htm


tulala.si.ako. said...

does sending a kid to school makes you feel young at heart laura?Ü

Island Dyke said...

hmmmmm, if i really think about it i have to say i fight to stay young at heart as sending our child to school puts me in a societal category of defined adulthood, and well, i'm still a kid at heart ;)