It is critical that every member of the school community – students, parents, teachers, and administrators – understand the school’s commitment to protecting students, and what's expected of both young people and adults to honor that commitment. There are numerous tools available, and numerous ways to convey your message.
Films: Showing a film, and conducting a discussion after, is an effective way to reach every member of the school – students, parents, administrators, and teachers – and get every stake holder involved in the discussion. Groundspark Films offers three highly-acclaimed films that are accompanied curriculum guides. Available at www.groundspark.org:
- It’s a Family (for elementary schools)
- Let’s Get Real (for middle schools)
- Straightlaced (for high schools)
Books: Providing books and resources in your school library is a critical step toward educating everyone. Find out what the policy for placing books in the library is and select books that will reflect the needs of your community. To get started, the Safe Schools Coalition (www.safeschoolscoalition.org) recommends books for every age.
Programs: School-wide programs offer opportunities for everyone to learn and participate. These programs help build community, empathy and understanding:
- No Name Calling Week (www.nonamecallingweek.org). This program, a program of GLSEN, is appropriate for students of all ages, and encourages students and schools to end teasing, name calling and hurtful language through on-going dialog and educational activities. Many of tools and strategies for the program can be downloaded free from their website.
- Mix It Up (www.mixitup.org) Started in 2006, Mix It Up, a program of Teaching Tolerance, is a nationwide campaign for students who want to cross the social boundaries that separate them from each other. The campaign is appropriate for elementary and middle school students. Free resources are available for using the program in your school.
- Day of Silence (www.dayofsilence.org) The Day of Silence is a student-led day of action, coordinated nationally by GLSEN, during which concerned students, from middle school through college, take a vow of silence to address the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
- National GSA Day (gsaday.org) For decades, GSAs have been working to make their campuses safe places for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Students who start and take part in these student groups are brave. They dare to create a dialogue to improve lives. This is a day to celebrate the courage of those students and faculty who start these important groups on their school campuses.
HELPFUL HINT: Remember not to allow gender stereotypes or norms (boys and girls should act a certain way) to impact your responses to students who are LGBT. It is important to understand that, in most situations, behavior that is appropriate for opposite sex couples is also appropriate for same-sex couples. For example, if your school allows a male and female student to hold hands, also understand that similar behavior is appropriate for two female, or two male, students. Appropriate behavior is almost always gender-neutral.
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