Post submitted by Welcoming Schools Project Coordinator Charles Girard
The beginning of a new school year can create stressors for all parents, guardians and other caregivers. However, being an LGBTQ person with a child going to school can be especially difficult and HRC is here to help. HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools has developed a list of strategies that LGBTQ families and educators can use to create a more LGBTQ-inclusive school and classroom this year. Here are four back to school tips for LGBTQ parents/guardians:
1. Provide your child’s school with LGBTQ-inclusive resources
Welcoming Schools has incredible resources, such as age-appropriate books that showcase diverse families and ready-to-use lesson plans that embrace family diversity. Providing the school with these materials will help your school to better address the diversity of family structures and to help educators know how to answer questions like “Why does Janelle have two dads?” or “What does ‘gay’ mean?”
2. Get involved in the school community
Does your school have a parent/guardian group? Are there opportunities to volunteer in the classroom or to attend a field trip? Not all families have the time or resources to volunteer at school, but if you do, you will have the opportunity to meet the school community and to have them meet you.
If you have less time, simply keeping an open dialogue with your child’s teacher can provide you with a connection to school and help your child thrive.
3. Speak up for your family and child
Does the school’s media center lack books about LGBTQ families? Does a form ask for the names of your child’s “mother and father” instead of their “legal caregiver(s)”?
If you can, speak up and provide feedback to the school to make it more LGBTQ-inclusive. It is not only beneficial to your family, but to all members of the school community because a responsibility of educators is to teach students to navigate difference in order to become better citizens of the school, the community, and the world.
4. Seek support from other families
Seeking support from other families is essential. Not only will you and your child develop friendships with families that are the same and/or different than your family, but an established network can help you as a group to make changes that will help the school be more inclusive, such as developing an enumerated bullying prevention policy or encouraging the school to hold professional development on family diversity or gender
For even more ways to support your child this school year, read the rest of our tips.
HRC Welcoming Schools is a comprehensive approach to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools with resources and professional development to embrace family diversity, create LGBTQ-inclusive schools, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and support transgender and gender-expansive students.