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Becca Cohoon Creating Friendly Classrooms for Sexual Minorities ED258

This was another challenging module for me. I am glad, however, that I read the articles and watched the

videos surrounding transgender children. They were and continue to be very thought provoking. Along with

this new perspective I have also gained ideas and tools for creating not only a classroom environment that is

sensitive to students and families living within the LGBT minority culture but also a school environment that

reflects the same sensitivity.

Within the classroom there are several strategies one can implement to create a safe and friendly environment.

Developing/using multicultural curriculum that includes sexual minority in a positive light, such as the

contributions people from this group has made to society. Incorporating age appropriate literature classroom

libraries both fiction and informational, showing a variety of family groups. Having guest speakers come to

address this issue as part of a multicultural awareness program is good to help break down stereotypes. Class

rules that address respect for all because of our differences. Somewhere in all the reading it mentioned using

terms such as parents and/or guardians instead of moms and dads remembering that not all students come from

traditional families a comment on this I dont see this as an issue so much for the gay/lesbian family as I do

for foster kids and single parent families.

The above strategies assist in the creating a classroom friendly environment for sexual minorities but there are

strategies that can be implemented on the school and district level as well. Gender neutral bathrooms private

bathrooms and/or allowing transgender students to use faculty bathrooms. In middle schools and high schools

addressing locker room usage either by providing a private area for changing in locker room of the students

gender identity or providing an adjacent private room, separate changing schedule, etc. Implement school

wide programs that facilitate the inclusion and respect for LGBT students which might include sports / gym

classes allowing students to participate in sports/gym activities based on gender identity. Establishing school

wide rules reflecting respecting people no matter the difference. Specifically include lesbian/gay in anti-

discrimination policies.
Becca Cohoon Creating Friendly Classrooms for Sexual Minorities ED258

Education would not just be for the students. Specific anti-bias education for educators can be put in place as

well. NEA offers sensitivity workshops on dealing with colleagues and students. Again having guest speakers

come to staff meetings to help breakdown stereotypes. The implementation of anti-discrimination/harassment

rules that include using correct names/pronouns with transgender or gender non-conforming students. And

regular reminders to answer questions regarding lesbian/gay issues in a straight forward, educational manner

not a personal one.

At the district level develop policies prohibiting bias, stereotyping and harassment that protects both students

and educators. Because there is a high rate of school dropout in this student group perhaps having resources

available including counseling, housing access, legal services etc. to encourage these students to remain in

school. There is government and private source funding is available to offset costs of these programs.

Barriers I see are districts not rallying behind the policies or only half way enforcing. Because this is such a

hotbed of controversy I for see parent objections to curriculum and literature in the classroom especially at the

elementary school level and push back from staff as well as students. Lack of funding to support some of the

changes I mentioned such as gender neutral bathrooms or sexual minority curriculum development. My own

personal fears and concerns include policies being so vague that even a sideways glance can be considered

harassment, perspective of treatment from peers and or teachers are left up to the discernment of the student

(subjective). Dealing with controversy with parents and colleagues. Facing my own challenges in regard to my

beliefs about lesbian/gay lifestyles. I do see that as a challenge but after viewing the videos and reading the

articles I feel better equipped to address these issues both with my peers and within myself.

A quote I liked from the Oregonian regarding her transgender son:

"This is not a lifestyle," Rhonda says, tearing up. "Who would choose this life? I just can't imagine anyone

choosing this life."