Along with students that have been bullied, I am furthering my research into another group that needs teacher allies. Members of the LGBTQ community are often the target of harassment and hate, simply because they don’t fit into the mold of what is considered to be “normal.” Much like what I did for bullied students, I had a ‘top-5-takeaways’ to talk about after researching how I could support students that identify within the LGBTQ community.
1. Avoid assumptions
This takeaway stood out the most for myself, considering many people struggle with it. It is key to avoid assuming a student is gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, etc. or to assume they are not any of those things until it is clearly communicated. If a student explains to you how they identify, you should thank them and let them know how understanding you are of their situation. Let them know that you are there for them and that you appreciate their honesty. Until that point, there should be no mention of a students sexuality/identity until they directly mention it to you.
2. Confront homophobia and things similar to it
Much like the ways I explained bullying can be stopped before it is started, the same goes for harassment against members of the LGBTQ community. As an ally to this group of marginalized students, act immediately when hearing any rude slurs, comments, or statements against them. To be an ally to a group of students means to act quickly–this is one way you can do that.
3. Show your involvement in LGBTQ groups/clubs
If your school does have clubs for students that identify within the LGBTQ community, make sure you get involved with their clubs and organizations. Show that you are an ally to their group by participating. You can act as an adviser to the group or contribute in any other way that is benificial to these students.
4. Enforce the dress-code equally across all students
There should be no bias in how the dress-code is enforced within your classroom. If a female-bodied student identifies as a male, you should enforce the dress-code as you would with anyone that dresses similar to him. The same goes for all members and non-members of the LGBTQ community. This will avoid biases and the practice of singling out these students in comparison to others. No school can forbid a male student from wearing typically ‘female’ gendered clothing, such as dresses or skirts, if another student is permitted to wear these articles of clothing. Know this when entering the classroom.
5. Enforce an anti-bullying policy just as you would with other students
Members of the LGBTQ community are the same as people who identify with more ‘normalized’ genders and sexualities. Bullying is bullying. There are no exceptions or justifications of it. The bullying policy present in your classroom must apply to all students and involves you acting fast when you see the slightest traces of it occurring in your classroom.
Really, the way you act as an ally to any student, not just one belonging to a specific group of individuals, is to act and support. All students in need of an ally need the support of another; this is your duty as an educator.
Check out the website I used below: