Health Education Teacher Leader School of the Arts
Q: In your role as a teacher what have you done to create a safer climate for LGBTQ youth and their families?
As an openly gay instructor, my primary responsibility is to model a mature, responsible, honest nature for all of our students regardless of their sexual orientation. My room is a safe zone, where students can come to discuss myriad issues ranging from academics, to sex, drugs and rock and roll. I collaborate with another teacher and a paraprofessional to facilitate the weekly Gay/Straight Transgender Alliance Meetings and coordinate our efforts with the Health Promotion Committee to bring entertaining and educational activities to the entire student body that promote a safe school climate.
Q: What is a fun activity you’ve done for LGBTQ?
We have had biweekly movie nights where we watch mainstream movies that highlight queer characters and plot lines. Last year we had a cat walk contest where students competed in a friendly manner as they strutted their stuff down the cat walk. It was hysterical.
Q: What were some challenges/barriers you encountered?
At School of the Arts, we pride ourselves on our open mindedness and safe school environment, and yet, each year, we struggle to balance our GSTA efforts between fun and support within our small school and the need to be active in the larger community. Because our students are so incredibly active and engaged in their respective artistic disciplines, it is often difficult to coordinate efforts with other schools and community based organizations. And yet, we make strides every year to bring wonderful opportunities to campus and our wonderful students to other locations as a method of outreach.
Q: What inspired you to be a mentor?
Am I a mentor? Having just one student confirm that title would be a dream come true.
Q: What has been the school/community reaction for the work you’ve done?
I believe that many appreciate our work and efforts to make school a safer place for all and that the general student body and faculty respect our motives and calls for action.