Q: At school, what have you done to create a safer climate for LGBTQ youth and their families?
We held an LGBTQ allied lineup on stage as part of an assembly to kick off the “Morning of Silence” event. We asked staff and students to stand up as an ally—it definitely changed the climate of our community.
Q: What is a fun activity you’ve done for LGBTQ youth?
The “Morning of Silence” at the middle school when I held this position. We asked the Special Day Class students to help us make lanyards for students to wear which meant they wanted to be silent for the morning. Then we debriefed in the library and discussed what it meant to be silent for the morning. That helped end the celebration of silence.
Q: What were some challenges/barriers you encountered?
I know in middle school getting the GSAs up and running is hard because some students are uncomfortable identifying, or questioning. Having an active GSA with only straight members as opposed to gay members felt like it was a struggle. Also, interrupting teacher’s class times with assemblies is a challenge.
Q: What inspired you to create safer spaces for LGBTQ youth?
It is my job to create a safer climate and build compassion and social justice in school. I looked at the data when I was on the healthy school team about six years ago and it struck me as important. The high number of truancies in LGBTQ youth and other risky behaviors needs to change in the classroom and at school.
Q: What has been the school/community reaction for the work you’ve done?
Fearful and then thankful. Some people didn’t the lineup or the morning of silence with meaning. They underestimated students capacity to have compassion. Also fear of parent backlash.