Young people spend a lot of their time at school, so it is important that what they are taught reflects the beautiful diversity in the world we live in. This is especially true for your LGBTQ+ pupils, who may be facing adversity, because it sends a powerful and supportive message to them. Bearing this in mind, Beyond explores ways to build LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the classroom…
While the world has come a long way in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, there is still room for improvement, and it can start in the classroom! We owe them to provide a curriculum that includes the themes, values and experiences of those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
In celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, here’s 5 tips to build LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the classroom:
1. Celebrate difference
Gone are the times where being different is something to be ashamed of. However, unfortunately some identities within the LGBTQ+ community still remain to be hidden. As educators, we should share the importance of respecting the differences in ourselves and others around us, in all ways that we can. Whether you’re promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity through creating a glossary of terms, promoting healthy class discussion, holding assembles or putting up classroom displays, taking steps in this direction is bound to make LGBTQ+ pupils feel more welcome and included. Helping your pupils to see the beauty in our differences is a great place to start!
2. Treat members of the LGBTQ+ community as whole multifaceted people
When exploring members of the LGBTQ+ community who are public figures or characters in literary texts, it’s easy to minimise them to just their gender and/or sexual identity. Encourage your pupils to see them as whole people who have many different and amazing things going for themselves. Members of the LGBTQ+ community have values, traits, aspirations and hobbies just like everyone else. In addition to their gender and sexual orientation, these things must be explored as well.
3. Don’t forget why it’s important
Encouraging your pupils to respect and support the diversity in the world can help reduce the inequality that occurs. LGBTQ+ individuals are part of every area of society but, unfortunately some remain hidden. We can empower LGBTQ+ people by embracing their presence, promoting their voices and talking about their experiences, in order to break down prejudice.
4. Centre relationships instead of labels
There is a common misconception that discussing LGBTQ+ issues have to centre around sex. Due to society labelling LGBTQ+ individuals as sexually “deviant,” the opportunity to discuss the many facets of gender and sexual identity is often lost. Explore a more expansive perspective of what it means to be LGBTQ+ in relationships. Help your pupils consider the complexity of love and attraction.
5. Don’t pressure LGBTQ+ pupils to explain everything
When inclusive conversations are explored in class, there is a tendency to target members of the community that are being discussed, and expecting them to speak up. Teachers should be aware that figuring out your own gender and sexual identity can be incredibly confusing, especially for teenage students. If a pupil is in that space, they may not feel confident enough to speak on their personal experiences, or on the behalf of an entire community. Let pupils volunteer themselves so that you know they are happy to share. If LGBTQ+ students choose not to share, this should be respected, and they should not be targeted. It is not their responsibility to lead the discussion.
Representation in schools tells LGBTQ+ pupils they are seen, heard, loved and accepted. Building inclusivity in the classroom means that our pupils can feel supported and thrive in their education.
Looking for Resources that Promote Inclusivity in the Classroom?
LGBTQ+ Experiences in Literature
RSE at Beyond
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