Supporting LGBTQ Youth through Family Engagement
Supporting LGBTQ Youth Through Family Engagement
LGBTQ youth often struggle in school. It’s not surprising. Think about it. In general, school can be difficult. Kids are mean. They form cliques. They bully. They alienate. And these things happen to children who don’t identify as LGBTQ. Imagine what happens when you are “different”. Life can be incredibly challenging and often very sad.
Schools and the professionals who work in them must take the lead and help make things better. Our children cannot, and should not, be responsible for managing this on their own. These issues are simply too big for them; they require oversight and input from adults.
One key to providing our LGBTQ youth the support they need is by encouraging family engagement. When parents and family members are involved in their children’s education, their kids do better (all kids, not just those who identify as LGBTQ). Those children who do identify as part of our community need this support even more - life can be overwhelming.
Communication is Key to Supporting LGBTQ Youth
As an educator, we encourage you to communicate regularly and appropriately. Know your families. Some parents are great with email, they check it regularly - it goes directly to their telephones. Others may not use it at all. Not everyone uses computers at work and checking emails can be a hassle. For those parents, a note in a backpack or a phone call may be a better strategy. It is also important to recognize that not everyone has parents whose first language is English - it may not even be spoken at home. If possible, work with your school to have your communication translated. Make it as easy as possible if you can. You want to encourage families to participate.
At the onset, make sure the parents of your students know you want to work as a team. Honestly, you want them to be comfortable coming to you both to ask questions and share information. This two-way communication can be key, especially for LGBTQ kids.
If you can, host informative events (including those on issues pertinent to the LGBTQ community) where you can bring together everyone involved (students, parents, administration, community leadership, etc). If you can live stream or broadcast educational events (or record them for future access) please do so! Sometimes parents and caregivers work evenings. Providing access to valuable programs for those who cannot attend is critical. And, when possible, offer child care or family-friendly events. More people will attend. And, more adults equals more resources. And more resources are a key to success.When it comes to kids, it truly does take a village. Schools and families can work together to help their students thrive. Let's keep supporting LGBTQ youth.