6 Strategies for Creating a Nurturing Classroom for Your LGBT Students
As a teacher, odds are that you will have at least one student who is gay or lesbian in your classroom. Regardless of how you feel about the LGBT community, as a teacher you have an ethical duty to protect and nurture all of your students. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a nurturing environment for your LGBT students.
Here are several strategies that you can use to accomplish this:
1. Let all of your students know that they are protected in your classroom. No bullying or harassment will be allowed, no matter what. This lets your LGBT students know that you genuinely care about all students.
2. Always challenge homophobic comments or thoughts, no matter how trivial you may think that they are. Students nowadays use terms like “that’s so gay,” “dyke,” or “faggot” as though they are acceptable. Let them know that language like that is vulgar and unacceptable.
3. Make sure you highlight the accomplishments of LGBT people in the areas of science, literature, and the arts in your lessons. For example, Bayard Rustin, an openly gay man, was one of the primary architects of the Civil Rights movement. He organized the famous “March on Washington.”
4. If your classroom is as open as I believe it will be, be ready to serve as an advisor and confidant for your LGBT students. This may make you uncomfortable, but you have to remember that they often have no one else to turn to.
5. Encourage your district administrators to provide an in-service dedicated to training teachers and administrators on how to create a safe school environment for LGBT students.
6. If your school has a Gay–Straight Alliance, volunteer to act as its faculty advisor or assist in any way that you can.
If you follow these strategies, your LGBT students should feel safe and secure in your classroom and in school in general. For teachers with strong anti-homosexual religious views, being supportive of a lifestyle that they don’t believe in may be hard, but it’s our job as teachers to be there for all of our students, regardless of how they choose to live their lives.