Q: In your role as a science teacher or educator, what have you done to create a safer climate for LGBTQ youth and their families?
When I hear negative comments I try to respond to them appropriately. It can vary what’s appropriate.
Q: What’s a fun activity you’ve done for LGBTQ?
If there’s a Gay/Straight Alliance, we do something like the Day of Silence or Gay Pride Month. There are pens the school district supplies called, “Don’t say that’s so gay.” And when they hand them to the students, they have to promise not to make anti-gay comments.
Q: What are some of the challenges in the community?
We have a Wellness Club at school and in the past we’ve had the high school GSA come and do an activity with them. We talk about “when did you know you were straight?” The kids always flip it around.
Q: What inspired you to take on this work, to be a mentor for the kids?
Two things—first, I think knowledge is the most powerful way to get to that safety. I didn’t come out to myself until I was an adult. I think it caused some pain that might’ve been avoided and so for my students to feel comfortable at an age when they’re realizing their sexuality, to be able to discover themselves, un-hinders it. To not be afraid of who they are. The second reason I take on this work is because it is a personal issue. I actually dropped out of school in ninth grade so the fact I am a teacher is unlikely. I want to inspire and support others, if I can.