5 Simple Ways to Create an Inclusive Classroom Environment for your LGBTQ+ Students


5 Simple Ways to Create an Inclusive Classroom Environment for your LGBTQ+ Students

Teachers often feel reflective as their school year comes to a close. This year, perhaps more than ever before, teachers are having to examine their practices and adjust their plans for the upcoming year. As you go through the process of packing up your classroom and planning for next year, consider reflecting on the safety and inclusivity of your classroom environment. Your LGBTQ+ students need your support.

According to the HRC 2018 LGBTQ Youth report, only 26% of LGBTQ+ students feel safe in their classrooms, and only 5% feel that the teachers and staff in their school are supportive of LGBTQ+ students. These are sobering statistics, given the fact that public schools are required by law to provide a safe learning environment for all students. 

In honor of PRIDE month, here are five simple things you can do to create an inclusive classroom environment for your LGBTQ+ students. 

1. Scrutinize and Improve your Classroom Library

As you inventory your classroom library for next year, make sure your collection represents a diverse population. Kids need books that reflect who they are, as well as books that help them see into the lives of others. If only straight, cis-gendered, white kids are depicted in the books students read, they’re missing out on a whole reading rainbow! Learning from diverse books builds empathy and confidence for all students. There are great resources here to help you build an empowering classroom library. 

2. Represent the Rainbow

Seeing a rainbow poster, flag, or sign in their teacher’s classroom can help make LGBTQ+ kids feel welcome. It’s a simple way to communicate your support. Imagine how powerful it would be for a student to walk into a classroom on the first day of school, and see that joyful, rainbow affirmation.

3. Stand up for LGBTQ+ Kids

Let your students know that you don’t stand for any discriminatory talk, ever. Make it a hard and fast classroom rule. If you hear negative talk, shut it down. It’s important for students to know that their teacher has their back. 

4. Use their Preferred Names and Pronouns

Sometimes, a student’s given name or birth gender does not fit them. It is simple to use a student’s preferred name and/or pronouns. The way a teacher addresses a student will impact them all year long. It costs you nothing to do so with respect to their identity. Celebrate their uniqueness!

5. Listen

Teachers don’t always have all the answers. We’re only human, and we will make mistakes. We can, however, commit to being a teacher that listens. Consider adding Socratic seminars, debates, and classroom discussions to your routine. Let your kids take the lead. All students need to have a voice in our classrooms, especially those whose voices are often muted in society. Give your students a voice, and show that you hear them. 

Teachers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, but they also have immeasurable power. Our nation is hungry for change, and the work starts with us. Teachers that cultivate an environment of inclusivity are creating space for our students to make their mark on the world. 

Also Check Out:

5 Simple Ways to Create an Inclusive Classroom Environment for your LGBTQ+ Students

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Kristen Nance

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Kristen Nance is an elementary school teacher in Oregon. She is passionate about children's literature, has an affinity for black cats, and is obsessed with ravens. She reads every mystery novel she can get her hands on, and feels happiest when she is near the ocean.

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