It is once again the season where parents, students, and teachers prepare for the start of a new school year.
The beginning of the school year brings with it a lot of things to consider including supplies, shoes and clothing, navigating buses, finding out which teachers and which classes are on the schedule, as well as strategies for getting out of bed and dressed on time.
For an LGBTQ student who is experiencing rejection at home, school can be the safe harbor to return to after a summer of conflict and isolation. On the other hand, if school has been the site of bullying or abuse, going back to school can be the beginning of another miserable year.
Ideally, for all students, including LGBTQ students, school is a safe place of acceptance and inclusion that encourages learning and growth. Schools that achieve this follow a simple recipe:
- Non-discrimination policies inclusive of sexual identity and gender identity and expression
- Cultural competence training for all school personnel
- Anti-bullying programs for all students
- Expectation of all to be kind and respectful of each other and a zero tolerance for mean-spirited behavior
- Diversity clubs or Gay Straight Alliance Clubs available
- Hiring diverse faculty and electing a diverse school board
- Visible signs of inclusion on bulletin boards, pictures and school postings
- Examples of difference imbedded in school curriculums
- Knowledge of community resources available to students
We look forward to hearing from youth who attend our afterschool program that more of them are experiencing a supportive school environment this year. We will certainly be there for the students who don’t, and we’ll be working with the schools who are trying to get it right. (Click here for information about Part II of our upcoming Safe Schools Summit).
If you know a child who is struggling at school or home, or you are a parent who needs information or help, or you are a teacher, guidance counselor, or administrator who wants to create a welcoming school environment, PERSAD CENTER is available to help you. Let’s make this an excellent school year!