How to bring our GLBTI students in from the cold

Craig Austin

So, you know one of your students is same-sex attracted and sometimes gets a hard time from other students over it: what do you do?

a) Pretend you don’t know and bury your head in the sand.
b) Take a hardline stance and suspend all students who make homophobic comments.
c) Attend a support group for teachers who have gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex (GLBTI) students in their class.
d) Have inclusive teaching practices regardless of whether you have GLBTI students in your class or not.

If you chose “D” you would be correct. Teachers strive to create safe and responsive schools by recognising and encouraging the diversity of all students and their families and fostering their acceptance both in and outside the classroom.

The needs of GLBTI students and their families have often been overlooked, and there is uncertainty over how to start to make schools and classrooms inclusive of GLBTI students and families.

Here are some ideas worth considering to support students who identify as being GLBTI:

  • challenge heterosexist assumptions during class discussions
  • use inclusive language — for example, when talking about families and relationships say “partner” instead of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”
  • be prepared to intervene when you hear students making gender-based assumptions;
  • integrate explicit lessons to address conflicts and utilise teachable moments that arise around gender, diverse families and bullying or name-calling
  • seek out anti-bias curricula and resources that model inclusiveness, making sure that all types of families are incorporated into your curriculum and into classroom discussions and conversation.

For further information refer to Federation’s website at http://www.nswtf.org.au/my-interests/special-interest-groups/gay-lesbian.html

Craig Austin teaches at Campbell House SSP and is a member of Federation’s GLBTI Restricted Committee.