NOTE: This post is an update to How can we make our school an ‘affirming space’ for LGBTQ students?
After hearing varied experiences of LGBTQIA+ families at LPAS and JCPS, I conducted an informal survey. This consisted of interviews of 8 self-selected current and former LPAS families with LGBTQIA+-identifying students. Below is a summary of their understanding, experiences, priorities and recommendations on how we can better support them.
We understand that:
- The LGBTQIA+ student community at LPAS exists, and national trends indicate it will continue to grow, and that this community is vulnerable.
- The ability to safely express sexual orientation or gender identity is critical to the healthy growth of LGBTQIA+ indviduals
- We do not currently have explicitly LGBTQIA+-inclusive language in our policies.
- Awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity is a matter of growing and maturing and will vary greatly from student to student, year to year.
We have observed:
- Families report a mix of experiences in communication, enrollment, issue management, policy and process surrounding LGBTQIA+ needs at LPAS. Policy and process is “discovered” rather than “offered”.
- While sexual orientation, gender roles and gender identity are not explicitly a part of daily curriculum, they are expressed daily in school by students, teachers, administration, curriculum and social structures.
- Statistically, “affirming spaces” that recognize and support LGBTQ youth considerably reduce the vulnerability of this community, especially in regards to mental health issues.
- We must acknowledge these families and students exist, are vulnerable and need support
- We must provide and communicate resources and support for these families and students
- We must actively listen and collaborate with these families and students.
- We must provide policy, process and action to serve this community throughout the school experience.
The following recommendations are within the purview of the SBDM Council:
- Updating our Diversity & Equity policy to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” alongside the other demographics the policy currently addresses: race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability.
- Establishment of an “LGBTQIA+ Equity Committee”, modeled after the “Racial Equity Committee” that would “Draft, train, and maintain” a school-based LGBTQ Equity policy that would cover.
To Be Considered:
The following are recommendations from families that could be drafted and enacted to comply or support established policy:
- Establish and broadly communicate a main point of contact within the school “for families to address LGBTQIA+ needs for their students. For example, establishing preferred pronouns, bathroom choice and communication of these preferences to teachers and students.
- Staff training to understand LGBTQIA+ issues.
- Use of non-gendered language and practices in classrooms. For example, saying “students” instead of “girls/boys”, or splitting students into groups not based on gender.
- Founding of a family/student LGBTQIA+ alliance, group or club.
Questions & Notes
What practical support does JCPS provide to families of LGBTQ students? Is there standard outreach, procedures, forms, etc?
What sort of guidance, training or procedures does JCPS provide for admin and staff in: #LGBTQIA-sensitive training #Individual student planning or issue resolution
Typically, how do LGBTQ families come to the attention of LPAS staff? Do we provide opportunities for them to self-identify, or is this informally communicated from families or students?