Make Schools Welcoming to Faculty and Students

Schools.  As teachers and staff, they are where we work. And, as students, they are where we learn.  For many adults and most children, schools are the place where they spend the most time. That said, it makes sense that they should be welcoming and safe for everyone.
Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in the visibility of both gender and sexual identity. People, including children, are coming out publicly and expressing their true selves.  Understanding this to be true, the importance of schools being LGBTQ-friendly, for everyone, is critical. 

Schools Being Proactive

Some states have been proactive.  For example, in 2011 the California legislature passed a law that required including the works of LGBTQ individuals into their school work. This action serves as the model for other states across the nation as they determine the best way to adjust their curriculum to make it more inclusive.  
Formal curriculum changes and laws governing educational content can be time-consuming to adopt.  It is important to pursue these efforts, as increased specialized education provides much-needed information to many who may be relatively unfamiliar with the LGBTQ  community and its history. It provides those who are members of the community positive role models as it illuminates the successes of those with whom they identify.   We all like to see "people like us" do well.  This is the perfect opportunity. 

Schools Should Increase LGBTQ Knowledge

Additionally, those who identify as LGBTQ are often bullied and harassed.  Increased education will help to combat this behavior. Also, there is a host of anti-violence and anti-suicide programs that can be introduced in schools to help those who may be struggling.  Schools should also consider establishing Gay/Straight Alliance groups on campus - this resource has proven to be valuable to many.
Less formal actions can also be taken. There are a number of days throughout the year that are designed to honor the LGBTQ community in one way or another. Teachers and administrators should consider sharing information on National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and others. Simple discussions can make a world of difference.

Things Schools Can Do

One of the most important things elementary school, middle schools or high school can do is to determine the needs and concerns of its LGBTQ population. Research, including public meetings and interviews, can help provide a clearer picture of what may be the most beneficial. Clearly, what works in one school may not be appropriate for another. Communities differ in economics, beliefs, and behaviors. School resources should be tailored.

Schools Establish Groups

Other school for kids can consider establishing to make them more welcoming include support groups, counseling services, safe spaces, gender-inclusive facilities, and role models. Continuing education for faculty and staff is critical -- times change, things evolve and we must grow with them.

We all deserve to feel welcomed, safe and valuable where we work and live. At Rainbow Depot, we encourage schools to embrace the opportunities to improve on every level and help make life just a little bit better.