Q. What are you doing to create a safer school community for LGBTQ students?
We started a GSA this year that we do every Tuesday at lunch. It’s going really well, we also put the safe space signs up around school and in my center. The poster says we accept all families; this is a safe space and has the words listed and a contact person listed in case they want to talk. We also do peace week at our school. All week long we have presenters come into class and speak on a variety of issues but we always one presenter from the LGBT community come talk about homophobia and transphobia and all those issues and how it affects people in the communities. And we do a fair at lunch where we do a trivial pursuit game where we have all the titles up there, like straight, lesbian, bisexual and we have the definitions for each and we have the students match the definition with the term. It’s a lot of fun.
Q. How has the school climate changed since the beginning of your LGBTQ work?
I think there’s more awareness and more allies speaking out against bullying. We passed out these pins last year that say love does not discriminate, and a lot of teachers wore them and a lot of the kids wore it became almost cool kind of. I was worried that was going to be someone who was like “If you have a pin you’re gay” but I didn’t hear a lot of that. I feel like talking about it made it more okay to fight against homophobia.
I actually asked how many students in my GSA groups parents were okay with themselves or friends being gay and one my students was like “Oh well my parents don’t really care, I mean they don’t care that I am, I mean I’m not gay but they don’t care if my friends are. So there are still students in the closet but.
Q. What would you like to do better this year?
I’ve thought about having youth do presentations around these issues. I’d like to see them do presentations around homophobia and hate, I think it would be really powerful. To hear it from their peers it means more than coming from an adult.